Background: Despite technological innovations and continuous improvement in evidence-based treatments, mortality in the intensive care unit (ICU) remains high. Consequently, a large group of family members may be in need of, and could benefit from, bereavement follow-up support.
Aims and Objectives: To explore the elements, organization, and evaluation of ICU bereavement services in European countries. Specific objectives were to investigate: (a) the model of bereavement follow-up services (elements of support), (b) the workforce model (organization of staff), and (c) the evaluation model (evaluation strategies).
Design: This was a cross-sectional survey of conference delegates.
Methods: A paper-and-pen questionnaire, including a cover letter assuring the respondents of anonymity and confidentiality, was distributed to 250 delegates during the opening ceremony of the 2017 European federation of Critical Care Nurses associations Congress in Belfast. The questionnaire was developed from a previously validated tool describing bereavement care practices in ICUs, including questions about the content and organization of bereavement follow-up services. Frequencies were calculated using yes/no questions, and content analysis was applied in additional free-text comments.
Results: We received 85 responses from publicly employed nurses, mainly in mixed adult ICUs. Respondents were 48 (56.5%) bedside nurses, and the remaining respondents represented clinical nurse specialists, researchers, managers, or academic nurses. Bereavement follow up had existed for about 1 to 15 years. Important follow-up elements were: viewing the deceased in the unit, 77 (90.6%); providing follow-up information, 67 (79.8%); sending a letter of sympathy, 17 (20%); and calling the family to arrange a meeting, 27 (31%).
Conclusions: Bereavement follow up is common but variable in European ICUs. We recommend the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based, but culture-specific, bereavement follow-up guidelines for European ICUs.
Relevance to clinical practice: More critical care nurses are realizing the need for bereavement follow-up guidelines. This paper provides an overview of common elements that might be considered.
Objective: Neurosurgeons care for critically ill patients near the end of life, yet little is known about how well their training prepares them for this role. We surveyed a random sample of neurosurgery residents to describe the quantity and quality of teaching activities related to serious illness communication and palliative care, and resident attitudes and perceived preparedness to care for seriously ill patients.
Methods: A previously validated survey instrument was adapted to reflect required communication and palliative care competencies in the 2015 the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Milestones for Neurological Surgery. The survey was reviewed for content validity by independent faculty neurosurgeons, piloted with graduating neurosurgical residents, and distributed online in August 2016 to neurosurgery residents in the United States using the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)/Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) Joint Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care email listserv. Multiple choice and Likert scale responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
Results: Sixty-two responses were recorded between August 2016 and October 2016. Most respondents reported no explicit teaching on: explaining risks and benefits of intubation and ventilation (69%), formulating prognoses in neurocritical care (60%), or leading family meetings (69%). Compared to performing craniotomies, respondents had less frequent practice leading discussions about withdrawing life-sustaining treatment (61% vs. 90%, p < 0.01, "weekly or more frequently"), and were less often observed (18% vs. 87%, p < 0.01) and given feedback on their performance (11% vs. 58%, p < 0.01). Nearly all respondents (95%) felt "prepared to discuss withdrawing life-sustaining treatments," however half (48%) reported they "would benefit from more communication training during residency." Most (87%) reported moral distress, agreeing that they "participated in operations and worried whether surgery aligned with patient goals."
Conclusions: Residents in our sample reported limited formal training, and relatively less observation and feedback, on required ACGME competencies in palliative care and communication. Most reported preparedness in this domain, but many were receptive to more training. Better quality and more consistent palliative care education in neurosurgery residency could improve competency and help ensure that neurosurgical care aligns with patient goals.
Background: The death of a child can have significant emotional effects on doctors responsible for their care. Trainee doctors working in the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) may be particularly vulnerable. The aim of this study was to examine the emotional impact of, and grief reactions to, a child's death in PICU trainee doctors, along with coping strategies they used.
Methods: In a prospective, cross-sectional, observational study, qualitative and quantitative data were recorded on anonymised, written questionnaires. Grief severity was assessed using the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief. Emotional impact was assessed using the shortened Impact of Event Scale. The BriefCOPE tool was used to assess coping strategies. Qualitative data was analysed using conventional content analysis. Data are presented as median (inter-quartile range) or number (%).
Results: All invited trainee doctors (23 anaesthetists; 5 paediatricians) completed the questionnaire (age, 30 [29-34] yr; 13/28 [46%] female). Two (7%) doctors experienced severe grief (Texas Revised Inventory of Grief score <39), with five (18%) doctors severely affected by the deaths as measured by the Impact of Event Scale. Qualitative analysis revealed prominent themes of sadness, helplessness, guilt, shock, and concern for the bereaved family. There was limited use of coping strategies. Speaking with another trainee doctor was the principal coping strategy. Requests for debriefing sessions, greater psychological support and follow-up with the patient's family were frequently suggested.
Conclusions: Paediatric deaths evoke significant grief and emotional reactions in a subset of PICU trainee doctors. Trainee PICU doctors highlighted a lack of professional support and tailored debriefs.
Termination of pregnancy after diagnosis of fetal anomaly (TOPFA) is a contested issue and stigma may negatively impact affected women's psychological reactions. This study examined the influence of perceived and internalized stigma on women's long-term adjustment to a TOPFA. One hundred forty-eight women whose TOPFA dated back 1 to 7 years responded to self-report questionnaires. The associations between perceived stigma at the time of the TOPFA, current internalized stigma and symptoms of grief, trauma and depression were modeled using multiple linear regression. The proportion of participants reporting scores above the cutoffs on the respective scale was 17.6% for grief, 18.9% for posttraumatic stress, and 10.8% for depression. After controlling for time since the TOPFA, pre-TOPFA mental health and obstetric variables, higher levels of current internalized stigma were related to higher levels of grief, trauma, and depression. Mediation analyses suggested that the effect of perceived stigma at the time of the TOPFA on symptoms of grief and trauma was mediated by current internalized stigma, but the cross-sectional design limited causal interpretation of results. Internalized stigma is associated with long-term psychological distress following a TOPFA. Perceived stigma at the time of the TOPFA may contribute to increased trauma and grief symptomatology, but results need to be validated in longitudinal studies. Health care providers and public initiatives should aim at reducing stigma among affected women.
Background: Advanced care planning (ACP) is a process that involves thinking about what medical care one would like should individuals be seriously ill and cannot communicate decisions about treatment for themselves. The literature indicates that ACP leads to increased satisfaction from both patients and healthcare professionals. Despite the well-known benefits of ACP, it is still underutilised in Australia.
Methods: The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of normalising ACP in acute and community settings with the use of specially trained normalisation agents. This is a quasi-experimental study, involving 16 sites (8 intervention and 8 control) in two health districts in Australia. A minimum of total 288 participants will be recruited (144 intervention, 144 control). We will train four registered nurses as normalisation agents in the intervention sites, who will promote and facilitate ACP discussions with adult patients with chronic conditions in hospital and community settings. An audit of the prevalence of ACP and Advanced Care Directives (ACDs) will be conducted before and after the 6-month intervention period at the 16 sites to assess the effects of the ACP service delivered by these agents. We will also collect interview and survey data from patients and families who participate, and healthcare professionals who are involved in this service to capture their experiences with ACP.
Discussion: This study will potentially contribute to better patient outcomes with their health care services. Completion of ACDs will allow patients to express their wishes for care and receive the care that they wish for, as well as ease their family from the burden of making difficult decisions. The study will contribute to development of a new best practice model to normalise ACP that is sustainable and transferable in the processes of: 1) initiation of conversation; 2) discussion of important issues; 3) documentation of the wishes; 4) storage of the documented wishes; and 5) access and execution of the documented wishes. The study will generate new evidence on the challenges, strategies and benefits of normalising ACP into practice in acute and community settings.
Background: In healthcare, many service evaluation questionnaires use free-text boxes without formal mechanisms for analysis. Patients and carers spend time documenting concerns that are often ignored or managed locally in an ad hoc manner. Currently, palliative care experiences of patients and carers in Wales are measured using a service evaluation questionnaire, comprising both closed and open-ended questions. Previous research, exploring free-text responses from this questionnaire, suggests that questionnaire refinement should accommodate service users' expressed priorities and concerns, and highlights the need to incorporate free-text data analysis strategies during study design.
Methods: Results from a previous analysis of 596 free-text responses provided the basis for an expert consensus day, where the current service evaluation questionnaire was refined. The refined version was tested during cognitive interviews with patients (n=10) and carers (n=7) receiving palliative care from 1 of 2 UK hospices. Data were analysed thematically.
Results: Interviews highlighted minor areas for change within the questionnaire and provided broader insight into patients' experiences of palliative care services. Patients and carers place an emphasis on simplifying language, decreasing the numeric response range and reducing written instructions; relying instead on visual cues, including formatting and layout. Findings highlighted the importance patients attached to providing meaningful free-text contributions.
Conclusions: Questionnaire refinement should use the patient perspective to effectively facilitate respondent understanding, pertinence and usability. The importance of employing data analysis strategies during questionnaire design may reduce research waste, thus enabling a better interrogation of service provision.
Introduction: To support general practitioners (GPs) in providing early palliative care to patients with cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or heart failure, the RADboud university medical centre indicators for PAlliative Care needs tool (RADPAC) and a training programme were developed to identify such patients and to facilitate anticipatory palliative care planning. We studied whether GPs, after 1 year of training, identified more palliative patients, and provided multidimensional and multidisciplinary care more often than untrained GPs.
METHODS: We performed a survey 1 year after GPs in the intervention group of an RCT were trained. With the help of a questionnaire, all 134 GPs were asked how many palliative patients they had identified, and whether anticipatory care was provided. We studied number of identified palliative patients, expected lifetime, contact frequency, whether multidimensional care was provided and which other disciplines were involved.
RESULTS: Trained GPs identified more palliative patients than did untrained GPs (median 3 vs 2; p 0.046) and more often provided multidimensional palliative care (p 0.024). In both groups, most identified patients had cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: RADPAC sensitises GPs in the identification of palliative patients. Trained GPs more often provided multidimensional palliative care. Further adaptation and evaluation of the tools and training are necessary to improve early palliative care for patients with organ failure.
In spite of a referral letter as an important document for communicating between physicians, whether it could also be useful as a source of information for patients has not yet established. We included cancer patients in palliative care setting, all of whom completed a standardized questionnaire regarding their opinion concerning the utility of a referral letter as a source of information and its requirements to achieve a better understanding. Completed questionnaires were received from 50 cancer patients. Ninety-four percent of participants agreed that a referral letter could be of great importance for procuring medical information to them. There was only minor divergence among the participants respecting age, gender, or education. Particular requirements were diagnosis, treatment plan, prognosis, list of drugs, and contact data of involved physicians. Additional important topics were laboratory values, alternatives to current therapy, side effects and supportive therapy, and advices regarding lifestyle and naturopathy. The majority of patients also concluded to accept technical terms in doctor's letters if a glossary supported their comprehension. The majority of patients prefer a concise description of medical information in a referral letter. This form of a letter would boost patients' involvement and help them transfer medical information to other therapists or relatives.
PURPOSE: The scope of hospice or palliative care has expanded since its inception, which has significant ramifications for the AH workforce. This study sought to elicit allied health (AH) clinicians' understanding and views about palliative care and its relevance to their clinical practice and to identify their educational needs. Results from analysis of free text survey responses to a single open-ended question from a larger survey are presented.
METHODS: An online survey was distributed to AH clinicians via email lists for the CareSearch Allied Health Hub, Allied Health Professions Australia, and other groups. Descriptive statistics and content analysis of free text responses were used to analyse the data.
RESULTS: A total of 217 AH clinicians responded to an email survey and 187 useable responses were analysed. Four themes were identified: 1) palliative care employs a client-centred model of care, 2) acknowledgement of living whilst dying, 3) interdisciplinary palliative care interventions provide active care in a range of domains, and 4) characteristics of palliative care teams and settings.
CONCLUSION: AH clinicians plan an active role in physical, social, and psycho-spiritual care of palliative care patients and caregivers. Burgeoning numbers of palliative care patients in nonspecialist palliative care settings require AH clinicians to develop skills and competencies to work with people who have advanced disease.
BACKGROUND: Every year, 2.6 million babies are stillborn worldwide. Despite these figures, stillbirth remains a relatively ignored public health issue. The wider literature suggests that this is due to the stigma associated with stillbirth. The stigma of stillbirth is seen as possibly one of the greatest barriers in reducing stagnant stillbirth rates and supporting bereaved parents. However, empirical evidence on the extent, type, and experiences of stillbirth stigma remain scarce.
AIM: This study aimed to explore the stigma experiences of bereaved parents who have endured a stillbirth.
METHODS: An online survey of closed and open-questions with 817 participants (n=796 female; n=17 male) was conducted in high-income countries.
FINDINGS: Based on self-perception, 38% of bereaved parents believed they had been stigmatised due to their stillbirth. Thematic data analysis revealed several themes consistent with Link and Phelan's stigma theory- labelling, stereotyping, status loss and discrimination, separation, and power. One more theme outside of this theory- bereaved parents as agents of change was also discovered.
CONCLUSION: Bereaved parents after stillbirth may experience stigma. Common experiences included feelings of shame, blame, devaluation of motherhood and discrimination. Bereaved parents also reported the silence of stillbirth occurred during their antenatal care with many health care providers not informing them about the possibility of stillbirth. Further research needs to be undertaken to explore further the extent and type of stigma felt by bereaved parents after stillbirth, and how stigma is impacting the health care professional disseminating and distributing resources to pregnant women.
OBJECTIVE: To describe psycho-oncological care structures and processes in German breast cancer centres from the perspective of the centre administration.
METHODS: The findings are based on a postal survey of a representative random sample of surgical sites of certified breast cancer centres in Germany. Data were collected in 2013 and 2014. The questionnaire included questions about infrastructure, patient information standards, psycho-oncological services and aspects of organisational culture. Data analyses included frequencies, means and bivariate relationships.
RESULTS: The return rate was 88.3% (53 hospital sites). Psycho-oncological care is provided by permanent employees in 87%. The average number of full-time-equivalent employees (FTE) is 1.23. Most breast cancer centres engage the occupational group of psycho-oncologists for psycho-oncological care (90%), followed by the medical service (80%) and breast care nurses (78%) (multiple answers were possible). The correlation coefficient between FTEs and surgical treatments per year is not significant (r=0.292, p=0.051). Hospitals are screening every inpatient for the need of psycho-oncological support in 76% of all sites. Frequently used screening instruments are distress thermometer (19%), clinical interview (13%) and basic psycho-oncological documentation (11%).
CONCLUSION: Our data provide insights into the self-reported structural and procedural quality of psycho-oncological care in German breast cancer centres. Further research should examine patient and caregiver perspective on the psycho-oncological services provided by breast cancer centres.
OBJECTIVE: To examine perceptions and experiences regarding providing spiritual care at the end of life of elderly care physicians practising in nursing homes in the Netherlands, and factors associated with spiritual care provision.
METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was sent to a representative sample of 642 elderly care physicians requesting information about their last patient who died and the spiritual care they provided. We compared their general perception of spiritual care with spiritual and other items abstracted from the literature and variables associated with the physicians' provision of spiritual care. Self-reported reasons for providing spiritual care were analysed with qualitative content analysis.
RESULTS: The response rate was 47.2%. Almost half (48.4%) provided spiritual end-of-life care to the last resident they cared for. Half (51.8%) identified all 15 spiritual items, but 95.4% also included psychosocial items in their perception of spirituality and 49.1% included other items. Physicians who included more non-spiritual items reported more often that they provided spiritual care, as did more religious physicians and those with additional training in palliative care. Reasons for providing spiritual care included a request by the resident or the relatives, resident's religiousness, fear of dying and involvement of a healthcare chaplain.
CONCLUSION: Most physicians perceived spirituality as a broad concept and this increased self-reported spiritual caregiving. Religious physicians and those trained in palliative care may experience fewer barriers to providing spiritual care. Additional training in reflecting upon the physician's own perception of spirituality and training in multidisciplinary spiritual caregiving may contribute to the quality of end-of-life care for nursing home residents.
PURPOSE: Suicide bereavement confers unique risk and distress. In several countries, bereaved family members are called on to attend an inquest, an official public inquiry into deaths caused by external factors. The current study aimed to explore how suicide-bereaved family members (n = 18) experienced the inquest process, through qualitative semi-structured interviews.
METHOD: Participants were identified via coroner's records and had previously taken part in a case-control study.
RESULTS: Qualitative findings indicated four overall themes with respect to family members' experiences of the inquest process: "inquest as fearfully unknown", "structural processes of the inquest", "enduring public and private pain to obtain answers" and "gaining answers and making sense". Most family members experienced distress and fear as a result of several elements of the inquest process. Some participants had positive experiences but these did not outweigh the distress experienced by the majority of family members regarding their overall experience of the inquest process.
CONCLUSIONS: Key recommendations include informing family members of the main aspects and purpose of the inquest process beforehand, adapting the process to maximise the privacy and comfort of the bereaved relatives, and restricting graphic evidence being heard, where possible, to minimise distress experienced by family members.
BACKGROUND: The community prevalence of advance care directives (ACDs) is low despite known benefits of advance care planning for patients, families and health professionals.
AIM: To determine the community prevalence of instructional and appointing ACDs in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and factors associated with completion of these documents.
METHODS: A telephone survey of adults living in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland (n=1175) about completion of instructional ACDs (making their own decisions about future health care) and appointing ACDs (appointing another to decide). Quota sampling occurred based on population size by state, gender and age, with oversampling in smaller jurisdictions (Victoria and Queensland).
RESULTS: Overall response rate was 33%. Six per cent of respondents reported completing an instructional ACD while 12% reported completing an appointing ACD. Female gender, higher educational level, personal experience of a major health scare and being widowed were significant predictors of completing an instructional ACD. Older age, higher educational level and being widowed were significant predictors of completing an appointing ACD.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite long-standing efforts to increase advance care planning, community prevalence of ACDs remains low, particularly for instructional ACDs. This study found some different predictors for instructional ACDs compared with appointing ACDs, and also a potential role for experiential factors in triggering uptake. These findings suggest supplementing general community awareness campaigns with more nuanced and targeted efforts to improve ACD completion.
BACKGROUND: Women who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest receive bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) less often than men. Understanding public perceptions of why this occurs is a necessary first step toward equitable application of this potentially life-saving intervention.
METHODS: We conducted a national survey of members of the public using Mechanical Turk, Amazon’s crowdsourcing platform, to determine reasons why women might receive bystander CPR less often than men. Eligible participants were adults (=18 years) located in the United States. Responses were excluded if the participant was not able to define CPR correctly. Participants were asked to answer the following free-text question: “Do you have any ideas on why women may be less likely to receive CPR than men when they collapse in public?” Descriptive statistics were used to define the cohort. The free-text response was coded using open coding, and major themes were identified via classical content analysis.
RESULTS: In total, 548 subjects were surveyed. Mean age was 38.8 years, and 49.8% were female. Participants were geographically distributed as follows: 18.5% West, 9.2% Southwest, 22.0% Midwest, 27.5% Southeast, and 22.9% Northeast. After analysis, 3 major themes were detected for why the public perceives that women receive less bystander CPR. They include the following: (1) sexualization of women's bodies; (2) women are weak and frail and therefore prone to injury; and (3) misperceptions about women in acute medical distress. Overall, 41.9% (227) were trained in CPR while 4.4% reported having provided CPR in a medical emergency.
CONCLUSIONS: Members of the general public perceive fears about inappropriate touching, accusations of sexual assault, and fear of causing injury as inhibiting bystander CPR for women. Educational and policy efforts to address these perceptions may reduce the sex differences in the application of bystander CPR.
Findings from an online survey of 350 adults who experienced early parental death showed that current dispositional gratitude was positively correlated with psychological well-being and posttraumatic growth and negatively correlated with depression. Further, 281 participants produced textual responses indicating they could remember the time following their parent's death. Increases in gratitude attributable to the experience of losing a parent were reported by 79% of these participants. They associated their increased gratitude with a newfound belief that life is precious and with greater appreciation for loved ones. Direction of change in gratitude was associated with psychological well-being, posttraumatic growth, and depression.
Cette étude visait à mesurer et à comparer les attitudes de différents groupes du Québec face à l'idée d'étendre l'aide médicale à mourir à des personnes inaptes à y consentir d'elles-mêmes au moment de l'acte.
BACKGROUND: Previous work shows that more affluent patients with cancer are more likely to die at home, whereas those dying from non-cancer conditions are more likely to die in hospital. Family caregivers are an important factor in determining place of death.
AIM: To investigate associations between family caregivers' household income, patients' access to specialist palliative care and place of patients' death, by level of personal end-of-life care.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional community household population survey.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Respondents to the Household Survey for England.
RESULTS: One-third of 1265 bereaved respondents had provided personal end-of-life care (caregivers) (30%). Just over half (55%) of decedents accessed palliative care services and 15% died in a hospice. Place of death and access to palliative care were strongly related ( p < 0.001). Palliative care services reduced the proportion of deaths in hospital ( p < 0.001), and decedents accessing palliative care were more likely to die at home than those who did not ( p < 0.001). Respondents' income was not associated with palliative care access ( p = 0.233). Overall, respondents' income and home death were not related ( p = 0.106), but decedents with caregivers in the highest income group were least likely to die at home ( p = 0.069).
CONCLUSION: For people who had someone close to them die, decedents' access to palliative care services was associated with fewer deaths in hospital and more home deaths. Respondents' income was unrelated to care recipients' place of death when adjusted for palliative care access. When only caregivers were considered, decedents with caregivers from higher income quartiles were the least likely to die at home. Family caregivers from higher income brackets are likely to be powerful patient advocates. Caregiver information needs must be addressed especially with regard to stage of disease, aim of care and appropriate interventions at the end of life.
L'amélioration de la prise en charge des enfants atteints de pathologies tumorales en phase palliative passe par une évaluation des pratiques médicales. Une enquête de pratique réalisée auprès de 40 médecins titulaires des 33 centres français d'hématologie-oncologie pédiatrique aide à cerner quelques pistes de réflexion autour d'enfants pour lesquels l'objectif est de mieux les aider à vivre sans l'espoir de les guérir.
Preference elicitation studies reporting societal views on the relative value of end-of-life treatments have produced equivocal results. This paper presents an alternative method, combining Q methodology and survey techniques (Q2S) to determine the distribution of 3 viewpoints on the relative value of end-of-life treatments identified in a previous, published, phase of this work. These were Viewpoint 1, "A population perspective: value for money, no special cases"; Viewpoint 2, "Life is precious: valuing life-extension and patient choice"; and Viewpoint 3, "Valuing wider benefits and opportunity cost: the quality of life and death." A Q2S survey of 4,902 respondents across the United Kingdom measured agreement with these viewpoints; 37% most agreed with Viewpoint 1, 49% with Viewpoint 2, and 9% with Viewpoint 3. Regression analysis showed associations of viewpoints with gender, level of education, religion, voting preferences, and satisfaction with the NHS. The Q2S approach provides a promising means to investigate how in-depth views and opinions are represented in the wider population. As demonstrated in this study, there is often more than 1 viewpoint on a topic and methods that seek to estimate that averages may not provide the best guidance for societal decision-making.