Introduction: It has been suggested that palliative care integrated into standard cancer treatment from the early phase of the disease can improve the quality of life of patients with cancer. In this paper, we present the protocol for a multicentre randomised controlled trial to examine the effectiveness of a nurse-led, screening-triggered, early specialised palliative care intervention programme for patients with advanced lung cancer.
Methods and analysis: A total of 206 patients will be randomised (1:1) to the intervention group or the control group (usual care). The intervention, triggered with a brief self-administered screening tool, comprises comprehensive need assessments, counselling and service coordination by advanced-level nurses. The primary outcome is the Trial Outcome Index of the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT) at 12 weeks. The secondary outcomes include participants’ quality of life (FACT-Lung), depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7), illness perception (Prognosis and Treatment Perceptions Questionnaire), medical service use and survival. A mixed-method approach is expected to provide an insight about how this intervention works.
Ethics and dissemination: This study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board of the National Cancer Center Japan (approval number: 2016-235). The findings will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations and will be reflected on to the national healthcare policy.
Trial registration number UMIN000025491.
Background: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of palliative care interventions are challenging to conduct and evaluate. Tools used to judge the quality of RCTs do not account for the complexities of conducting research in seriously ill populations and may artificially downgrade confidence in palliative care research.
Objective: To compare assessments from the Palliative Care Trial Assessment Tool (PCTAT) and Cochrane Risk of Bias (RoB) tool.
Design: Reviewers assessed 43 RCTs using PCTAT and RoB. We compared assessments of each trial, assessed overall agreement (weighted kappa (Kw)) and examined (dis)agreement for comparable items. We assessed quality of life at 1–3 months among trials grouped according to RoB or PCTAT score (using meta-analysis) and whether RoB or quality improved over time (Cochran-Armitage trend test).
Results: Of 43 trials, those rated low RoB had a mean PCTAT score of 73 (SD 10); those rated high RoB had a mean PCTAT score of 56 (SD 14). Overall Kw was 0.33 (95% CI 0.19 to 0.42). Total agreement between comparable items was observed for 56% of trials (24/43) and total disagreement for 21% (8/43). The standardised mean difference in quality of life was statistically significant among RCTs with low RoB and high PCTAT, but not for those with medium/low PCTAT or high/unclear RoB. Quality of reporting improved over time, whereas RoB did not.
Conclusion: Although there was fair agreement between tools, areas of disagreement/non-comparability suggest the tools capture different aspects of bias/quality. A specific tool to evaluate quality of palliative care trials may be warranted.
Background: Advance Care Planning is recommended for people with end-stage kidney disease but evidence is limited. Robust clinical trials are needed to investigate the impact of advance care planning in this population. There is little available data on cost-effectiveness to guide decision makers in allocating resources for advance care planning. Therefore we sought to determine the feasibility of a randomised controlled trial and to test methods for assessing cost-effectiveness.
Methods: A deferred entry, randomised controlled feasibility trial, incorporating economic and process evaluations, with people with end-stage kidney disease, aged 65 years or older, receiving haemodialysis, in two renal haemodialysis units in Northern Ireland, UK. A nurse facilitator helped the patient make an advance care plan identifying: a surrogate decision-maker; what the participant would like to happen in the future; any advance decision to refuse treatment; preferred place of care at end-of-life.
Results: Recruitment lasted 189 days; intervention and data collection 443 days. Of the 67 patients invited to participate 30 (45%) declined and 36 were randomised to immediate or deferred advance care plan groups. Twenty-two (61%) made an advance care plan and completed data collection at 12 weeks; 17 (47.2%) were able to identify a surrogate willing to be named in the advance care plan document. The intervention was well-received and encouraged end-of-life conversations, but did not succeed in helping patients to fully clarify their values or consider specific treatment choices. There was no significant difference in health system costs between the immediate and deferred groups.
Conclusions: A trial of advance care planning with participants receiving haemodialysis is feasible and acceptable to patients, but challenging. A full trial would require a pool of potential participants five times larger than the number required to complete data collection at 3 months. Widening eligibility criteria to include younger (under 65 years of age) and less frail patients, together with special efforts to engage and retain surrogates may improve recruitment and retention. Traditional advance care planning outcomes may need to be supplemented with those that are defined by patients, helping them to participate with clinicians in making medical decisions.
Trial registration: Registered December 16, 2015. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02631200.
Background: Family meetings facilitate the exploration of issues and goals of care however, there has been minimal research to determine the benefits and cost implications.
Aims: To determine: (1) if family caregivers of hospitalised patients referred to palliative care who receive a structured family meeting report lower psychological distress (primary outcome), fewer unmet needs, improved quality of life; feel more prepared for the caregiving role; and receive better quality of end-of-life care; (2) if outcomes vary dependant upon site of care and; (3) the cost-benefit of implementing meetings into routine practice.
Design: Pragmatic cluster randomised trial involving palliative care patients and their primary family caregivers at three Australian hospitals. Participants completed measures upon admission (Time 1); 10 days later (Time 2) and two months after the patient died (Time 3). Regression analyses, health utilisation and process evaluation were conducted.
Results: 297 dyads recruited; control (n = 153) and intervention (n = 144). The intervention group demonstrated significantly lower psychological distress (Diff: –1.68, p < 0.01) and higher preparedness (Diff: 3.48, p = 0.001) at Time 2. No differences were identified based on quality of end of life care or health utilisation measures.
Conclusions: Family meetings may be helpful in reducing family caregiver distress and enhancing their preparedness for the caregiving role and it appears they may be conducted without increased hospital health utilisation impacts; although opportunity costs need to be considered in order to routinely offer these as a standardised intervention. Additional health economic examination is also advocated to comprehensively understand the cost-benefit implications.
Trial Registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12615000200583
BACKGROUND: The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool intervention (CSNAT-I) has been shown to improve end-of-life care support for informal caregivers. This study investigated the impact of the CSNAT-I on caregivers of patients recently enrolled in specialised palliative care (SPC) at home in Denmark.
METHODS: A stepped-wedge cluster randomised controlled trial with nine clusters (ie, SPC teams). Outcome measures were collected using caregiver questionnaires at baseline (T0) and 2-week (T1) and 4-week (T2) follow-up.
RESULTS: A total of 437 caregivers were enrolled (control group, n=255; intervention group, n=182). No intervention effect was found on the primary outcome, caregiver strain at T1 (p=0.1865). However, positive effects were found at T1 and T2 on attention to caregivers' well-being (p<0.0001), quality of information and communication (p<0.0001), amount of information (T1: p=0.0002; T2: p<0.0001), involvement (T1: p=0.0045; T2: p<0.0001), talking about greatest burdens (p<0.0001) and assistance in managing greatest burdens (p<0.0001). The effect sizes of these differences were medium or large and seemed to increase from T1 to T2. At T1, positive effects were found on distress (p=0.0178) and home care responsibility (p=0.0024). No effect was found on the remaining outcomes.
CONCLUSION: Although no effect was found on caregiver strain, the CSNAT-I showed positive effects on caregiver distress, home care responsibility and key outcomes regarding caregivers' experience of the interaction with healthcare professionals.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT03466580.
Background: Transitioning care from hospital to home is associated with risks of adverse events and poor continuity of care. These transitions are even more challenging when new approaches to care, such as palliative care, are introduced before discharge. Family caregivers (FCGs) are expected to navigate these transitions while also managing care. In addition to extensive caregiving responsibilities, FCGs often have their own health needs that can inhibit their ability to provide care. Those living in rural areas have even fewer resources to meet their self-care and caregiving needs. The purpose of this study is to test the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of an intervention to improve FCGs’ health and well-being. The intervention uses video visits to teach, guide, and counsel FCGs in rural areas during hospital-to-home transitions. The intervention is based on evidence of transitional and palliative care principles, which are individualized to improve continuity of care, provide caregiver support, enhance knowledge and skills, and attend to caregivers’ health needs. It aims to test whether usual care practices are similar to this technology-enhanced intervention in (1) caregiving skills (e.g., caregiving preparedness, communication with clinicians, and satisfaction with care), (2) FCG health outcomes (e.g., quality of life, burden, coping skills, depression), and (3) cost. We describe the rationale for targeting rural caregivers, the methods for the study and intervention, and the analysis plan to test the intervention’s effect.
Methods: The study uses a randomized controlled trial design, with FCGs assigned to the control condition or the caregiver intervention by computer-generated lists. The intervention period continues for 8 weeks after care recipients are discharged from the hospital. Data are collected at baseline, 2 weeks, 8 weeks, and 6 months. Time and monetary costs from a societal perspective are captured monthly.
Discussion: This study addresses 2 independent yet interrelated health care foci—transitional care and palliative care—by testing an intervention to extend palliative care practice and improve transition management for caregivers of seriously ill patients in rural areas. The comprehensive cost assessment will quantify the commitment and financial burden of FCGs.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03339271. Registered on 13 November 2017.
BACKGROUND: Despite the urgent need for palliative care for patients with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it is not yet daily practice. Important factors influencing the provision of palliative care are adequate communication skills, knowing when to start palliative care and continuity of care. In the COMPASSION study, we address these factors by implementing an integrated palliative care approach for patients with COPD and their informal caregivers.
METHODS: An integrated palliative care intervention was developed based on existing guidelines, a literature review, and input from patient and professional organizations. To facilitate uptake of the intervention, a multifaceted implementation strategy was developed, comprising a toolbox, (communication) training, collaboration support, action planning and monitoring. Using a hybrid effectiveness-implementation type 2 design, this study aims to simultaneously evaluate the implementation process and effects on patient, informal caregiver and professional outcomes. In a cluster randomized controlled trial, eight hospital regions will be randomized to receive the integrated palliative care approach or to provide care as usual. Eligible patients are identified during hospitalization for an exacerbation using the Propal-COPD tool. The primary outcome is quality of life (FACIT-Pal) at 6 months. Secondary outcome measures include spiritual well-being, anxiety and depression, unplanned healthcare use, informal caregiver burden and healthcare professional's self-efficacy to provide palliative care. The implementation process will be investigated by a comprehensive mixed-methods evaluation assessing the following implementation constructs: context, reach, dose delivered, dose received, fidelity, implementation level, recruitment, maintenance and acceptability. Furthermore, determinants to implementation will be investigated using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research.
DISCUSSION: The COMPASSION study will broaden knowledge on the effectiveness and process of palliative care integration into COPD-care. Furthermore, it will improve our understanding of which strategies may optimize the implementation of integrated palliative care.
Background: Mindfulness practices may have a role in reducing suffering and improving spiritual well-being among patients with serious illness. The efficacy, feasibility and acceptability of such interventions warrant further exploration in the palliative care population.
Objective: To investigate the effect of a brief mindfulness practice, the 5-minute mindfulness of peace intervention, on suffering and spiritual well-being among palliative care patients.
Methods: A randomized controlled study was conducted on adult palliative care patients with moderate to severe levels of suffering. Participants in the intervention arm were guided through a 5-minute mindfulness of peace exercise while participants in the control arm received 5 minutes of active listening. Pre- and post-intervention suffering and spiritual well-being were measured using the Suffering Pictogram and the FACIT-Sp-12 questionnaire, respectively.
Results: 40 participants completed the study. 5-minute mindfulness of peace significantly reduced suffering (median = -3.00, IQR = 2.00) more than 5 minutes of active listening (median = -1.00, IQR = 1.75), U = 73.50, z = -3.48, p = 0.001, 2 = 0.31. FACIT-Sp-12 score also significantly improved in the intervention arm (median = +5.00, IQR = 2.75) compared with the control arm after 5 minutes (median = +1.00, IQR = 3.00), U = 95.50, z = -2.85, p = 0.004, 2 = 0.21.
Conclusions: A brief 5-minute mindfulness of peace exercise is effective in providing immediate relief of suffering and improving spiritual well-being. It is a useful and feasible intervention among patients receiving palliative care for rapidly and momentarily reducing spiritual suffering.
INTRODUCTION: Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms for patients with advanced cancer. While there is evidence for acupuncture point stimulation for treatment of these symptoms for patients having anticancer treatment, there is little for when they are not related to such treatment.
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether acupressure at the pericardium 6 site can help in the treatment of nausea and vomiting suffered by palliative care patients with advanced cancer.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Double blind randomised controlled trial-active versus placebo acupressure wristbands. In-patients with advanced cancer in two specialist palliative care units who fitted either or both of the following criteria were approached: Nausea that was at least moderate; Vomiting daily on average for the prior 3 days.
RESULTS: 57 patients were randomised to have either active or placebo acupressure wristbands. There was no difference in any of the outcome measures between the two groups: change from baseline number of vomits; Visual Analogue Scale for 'did acupressure wristbands help you to feel better?'; total number of as needed doses of antiemetic medication; need for escalation of antiemetics.
CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to a previously published feasibility study, active acupressure wristbands were no better than placebo for specialist palliative care in-patients with advanced cancer and nausea and vomiting.
BACKGROUND: Although rehabilitation is recommended for terminal cancer patients, the specific components and methods of such programs are poorly documented. No studies to date have examined the effectiveness of rehabilitation for terminal cancer patients. This study aims to evaluate the efficacy of a new intervention for rehabilitation therapists, using the Op-reha Guide (Guide to Optimal and Patient-Centred Rehabilitation Practice for Patients in Palliative Care Units [PCUs]) in rehabilitation practice. This guide consists of recommended actions and attitudes for rehabilitation therapists and aims to optimise therapists' actions according to the patient's needs and condition. It shares goals with terminal cancer patients to maintain their activities of daily living (ADL).
METHODS: This study uses a multicentre, prospective, randomised controlled trial (RCT) design with two parallel groups in PCUs where specialised rehabilitation will be routinely performed for terminal cancer patients by rehabilitation therapists. Participants will be randomised (1:1) to intervention (the Op-reha Guide) and control groups (usual rehabilitation). We will then conduct an observational study in PCUs that do not perform specialised rehabilitation for terminal cancer patients; this will be considered the usual care group, and the efficacy of usual rehabilitation will be quantitatively evaluated. Inclusion criteria are hospitalisation in PCU, European Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status of 2 or 3, and clinical estimation of life expectancy of 3 }weeks or more. Patients with severe symptom burden will be excluded. We hypothesise that the Op-reha Guide will be more effective in maintaining the ADL of terminal cancer patients hospitalised in PCUs than usual rehabilitation. The primary endpoint is defined as the change in (total) modified Barthel Index from baseline to Day 22. Quality of life will be a secondary endpoint. In total, 135 patients will be recruited from 16 Japanese sites between July 2019 and December 2021.
DISCUSSION: This will be the first trial to evaluate the efficacy of specialised rehabilitation for terminal cancer patients hospitalised in PCUs, and will contribute to the evidence on the efficacy of implementing rehabilitation for terminal cancer patients.
Background: Delirium is highly problematic in palliative care (PC). Preliminary data indicate a potential role for melatonin to prevent delirium, but no randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are reported in PC.
Methods: Patients aged =18 years, with advanced cancer, admitted to an inpatient Palliative Care Unit (PCU), having a Palliative Performance Scale rating = 30%, and for whom consent was obtained, were included in the study. Patients with delirium on admission were excluded. The main study objectives were to assess the feasibility issues of conducting a double-blind RCT of exogenous melatonin to prevent delirium in PC: recruitment, retention, procedural acceptability, appropriateness of outcome measures, and preliminary efficacy and safety data. Study participants were randomized in a double-blind, parallel designed study to receive daily melatonin 3 mg or placebo orally at 21:00 over 28 days or less if incident delirium, death, discharge or withdrawal occurred earlier. Delirium was diagnosed using the Confusion Assessment Method. Efficacy endpoints in the melatonin and placebo groups were compared using time-to-event analysis: days from study entry to onset of incident delirium.
Results: Over 16 months, 60/616 (9.7%; 95% CI: 7.5–12.4%) screened subjects were enrolled. The respective melatonin (n = 30) vs placebo (n = 30) outcomes were: incident delirium in 11/30 (36.7%; 95%CI: 19.9–56.1%) vs 10/30 (33%; 95% CI: 17.3–52.8%); early discharge (6 vs 5); withdrawal (6 vs 3); death (0 vs 1); and 7 (23%) vs 11 (37%) reached the 28-day end point. The 25th percentile time-to-event were 9 and 18 days (log rank, 2 = 0.62, p = 0.43) in melatonin and placebo groups, respectively. No serious trial medication-related adverse effects occurred and the core study procedures were acceptable. Compared to those who remained delirium-free during their study participation, those who developed delirium (n = 21) had poorer functional (p = 0.036) and cognitive performance (p = 0.013), and in particular, poorer attentional capacity (p = 0.003) at study entry.
Conclusions: A larger double-blind RCT is feasible, but both subject accrual and withdrawal rates signal a need for multisite collaboration. The apparent trend for shorter time to incident delirium in the melatonin group bodes for careful monitoring in a larger trial.
Qualitative methodologies have multiple contributions to health research, including improving baseline understanding in new areas of enquiry; questioning existing assumptions; understanding viewpoints of specific subgroups; and offering complex, contextual information. While the role of qualitative research within mixed methods approaches is well documented, the contribution to clinical trial design and conduct is less well recognized. The Australian Palliative Care Clinical Studies Collaborative and Cancer Symptom Trials have developed a framework to detail how qualitative research might contribute to each key aspect of clinical trials. This practical framework provides real-world examples, including sample qualitative questions, to consider at each phase of controlled clinical trial development. As the number of randomized clinical trials in palliative care increases, a readily accessible approach to integrating qualitative research into clinical trial design and conduct is needed so that its full potential for improving study recruitment, conduct, outcomes, interpretation, and implementation may be realized.
The number of residents in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) in need of palliative care is growing in the Western world. Therefore, it is foreseen that significantly higher percentages of budgets will be spent on palliative care. However, cost-effectiveness analyses of palliative care interventions in these settings are lacking. Therefore, the objective of this paper was to assess the cost-effectiveness of the ‘PACE Steps to Success’ intervention. PACE (Palliative Care for Older People) is a 1-year palliative care programme aiming at integrating general palliative care into day-to-day routines in LTCFs, throughout seven EU countries.
Objectives: Comparison of the effects of reflexology and relaxation on pain, anxiety, and depression, and quality of life (QoL) of patients with cancer.
Design: A stratified random sample was selected, using an experimental design.
Location: An outpatient Palliative Care Unit in Attica, Greece.
Subjects: 88 patients suffering with cancer.
Interventions: The sample was randomly divided into two equal groups, a reflexology and a relaxation group. The number of interventions for both groups was six 30-min weekly sessions.
Outcome measures: The Greek Brief Pain Inventory (G-BPI) was used to measure pain, the Greek Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale for screening anxiety and depression, and finally the Short Form Health Survey was used to measure QoL. Measurements of the above tools were taken three times in both groups as follows: preintervention, at fourth and at sixth week of intervention.
Results: Anxiety and depression for both groups exhibited a statistically significant decrease during the observation period (p < 0.001, 2 > 0.25) but at the sixth week, there was a more significant decrease in the reflexology group compared with the relaxation group (p = 0.062, 2 = 0.044 vs. p = 0.005, 2 = 0.096 for anxiety), (p = 0.006, 2 = 0.094 vs. p = 0.001, 2 = 0.138 for depression). QoL physical and mental component measurements were significantly greater for the reflexology group (p < 0.001, 2 = 0.168 and p = 0.017, 2 = 0.071, respectively). The baseline-to-sixth week G-BPI measurements were markedly decreased for the reflexology group (p = 0.207, 2 = 0.020).
Conclusions: Both interventions, relaxation and reflexology, seemed to be effective in decreasing anxiety and depression in patients with cancer. However, reflexology was found to be more effective in improving QoL (physical component) and to have a greater effect on pain management than relaxation.
Background: Palliative care is a modality of treatment that addresses physical, psychological and spiritual symptoms. Dignity therapy, a form of psychotherapy, was developed by Professor Harvey Chochinov, MD in 2005.The aim of the study was to assess the effect of one session of dignity therapy on quality of life in advanced cancer patients.
Methods: This was a randomized control trial of 144 patients (72 in each arm) randomized into group 1 (intervention arm) and group 2 (control arm). Baseline ESAS scores were determined in both arms following which group 1 received Dignity therapy while Group 2 received usual care only. Data collected was presented as printed (Legacy) documents to group 1 participants. These documents were a summary of previous discussions held. Post intervention ESAS scores were obtained in both groups after 6 weeks. Analysis was based on the intention to treat principle and descriptive statistics computed. The main outcome was symptom distress scores on the ESAS (summated out of 100 and symptom specific scores out of 10). The student T-test was used to test for difference in ESAS scores at follow up and graphs were computed for common cancers and comorbidities.
Results: Of the 144 (72 patients in each arm) patients randomized, 70% were female while 30% were male with a mean age of 50 years. At 6 weeks, 11 patients were lost to follow up, seven died and 126 completed the study. The commonly encountered cancers were gastrointestinal cancers (43%, p = 0.29), breast cancer (27.27% p = 0.71) and gynaecologic cancers (23% p = 0.35). Majority of the patients i.e. 64.3% had no comorbidities.
The primary analysis results showed higher scores for the DT group (change in mean = 1.57) compared to the UC group (change in mean = - 0.74) yielding a non-statistically significant difference in change scores of 1.44 (p = 0.670; 95% CI - 5.20 to 8.06). After adjusting for baseline scores, the mean (summated) symptom distress score was not significant (GLM p = 0.78). Dignity therapy group showed a trend towards statistical improvement in anxiety (p = 0.059). The largest effects seen were in improvement of appetite, lower anxiety and improved wellbeing (Cohen effect size 0.3, 0.5 and 0.31 respectively).
Conclusion: Dignity therapy showed no statistical improvement in overall quality of life. Symptom improvement was seen in anxiety and this was a trend towards statistical significance (p = 0.059).
This study aims to analyse the impact that a psychological intervention programme has on the emotional state of family caregivers of patients at the end of life. The study is longitudinal with two arms (control and experimental). Data was collected from 154 primary family caregivers of patients at the end of life as well as from their respective 154 care-recipients. The intervention programme has shown its effectiveness in reducing anxiety, emotional distress and burden in the family caregivers of end-of-life patients. A reduction of anxiety of patients whose family caregivers participated in the intervention was also observed.
Context: There has been increasing evidence of the role of mindfulness-based interventions in improving various health conditions. However, the evidence for the use of mindfulness in the palliative care setting is still lacking.
Objectives: The objective of our study was to determine the efficacy of a single session of 20 min mindful breathing in alleviating multiple symptoms in palliative care.
Methods: Adult palliative care in patients with at least one symptom scoring =5/10 based on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) were recruited from September 2018 to December 2018. Recruited patients were randomly assigned to either 20 min mindful breathing and standard care or standard care alone.
Results: Forty patients were randomly assigned to standard care plus a 20 min mindful breathing session (n=20) or standard care alone (n=20). There was statistically significant reduction of total ESAS score in the mindful breathing group compared with the control group at minute 20 (U=98, n 1 = n 2 = 20, mean rank 1 = 15.4, mean rank 2 = 25.6, median reduction 1 = 6.5, median reduction 2 = 1.5, z=-2.763, r=0.3, p=0.005).
Conclusion: Our results provided evidence that a single session of 20 min mindful breathing was effective in reducing multiple symptoms rapidly for palliative care patients.
BACKGROUND: To assure patient-centred end-of-life care, palliative interventions need to account for patients' preferences. Advance care planning (ACP) is a structured approach that allows patients, relatives and physicians to discuss end-of-life decisions. Although ACP can improve several patient related outcomes, the implementation of ACP remains difficult. The col-ACP-study (collaborative advance care planning) will investigate a new ACP procedure (col-ACP-intervention (German: Hand-in-Hand Intervention)) in palliative cancer patients and their relatives that addresses individual values and targets barriers of communication before an ACP process.
METHODS: In a randomised controlled trial, 270 cancer patients without curative treatment options and their relatives will receive either 1) col-ACP 2) a supportive intervention (active control group) or 3) standard medical care (TAU). col-ACP comprises two steps: a) addressing various barriers of patients and relatives that discourage them from discussing end-of-life issues followed by b) a regular, structured ACP procedure. The col-ACP-intervention consists of 6 sessions. Primary endpoint is the patients' quality of life 16 weeks after randomisation. Secondary endpoints include measurements of distress; depression; communication barriers; caregivers' quality of life; existence of ACP or advance directives; the consistence of end of life care; and others. Patients will be followed up for 13 months. Multivariate analyses will be carried out. Qualitative evaluation of the intervention will be conducted.
DISCUSSION: Augmentation of a regular ACP program by a structured psycho-oncological intervention is an innovative approach to target barriers of communication about end-of-life issues. Study findings will help to understand the value of such a combined intervention in palliative care.
Introduction: Dignity Therapy (DT) is a brief, individualized, narrative psychotherapy developed to reduce psychosocial and existential distress, and promote dignity, meaning, and hope in end of life patients. Previous studies have shown that DT was effective in reducing anxiety and depression, and improving dignity-related distress. However, less is known about its efficacy on spiritual well-being. The aim of this study is to contribute to the existing literature by investigating the effects of DT on specific dimensions of spiritual well-being, demoralization and dignity-related distress in a sample of terminally ill patients.
Methods: A randomized, controlled trial was conducted with 64 terminally ill patients who were randomly assigned to the intervention group (DT + standard palliative care) or the control group (standard palliative care alone). The primary outcome measures were Meaning, Peace, and Faith whereas the secondary outcome measures were (loss of) Meaning and purpose, Distress and coping ability, Existential distress, Psychological distress, and Physical distress. All measures were assessed at baseline (before the intervention), 7-10 and 15-20 days after the baseline assessment. The trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (Protocol Record NCT04256239).
Results: The MANOVA yielded a significant effect for the Group X Time interaction. ANOVA with repeated measures showed a significant effect of time on peace and a significant Group X Time interaction effect on peace. Post hoc comparisons revealed that, while there was a decrease in peace from pre-treatment to follow-up and from post-treatment to follow-up in the control group, there was no such trend in the intervention group. Discussion: This study provides initial evidence that patients in the DT intervention maintained similar levels of peace from pre-test to follow-up, whereas patients in the control group showed a decrease in peace during the same time period. We did not find significant longitudinal changes in measures of meaning, faith, loss of meaning and purpose, distress and coping ability, existential, psychological and physical distress. The findings of our study are of relevance in palliative care and suggest the potential clinical utility of DT, since they offer evidence for the importance of this intervention in maintaining peace of mind for terminally ill patients.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the effect of a systematic, fast-track transition from oncological treatment to specialised palliative care at home on symptom burden, to explore intervention mechanisms through patient and intervention provider characteristics and to assess long-term survival and place of death.
MEASURES: The effect of a systematic, fast-track transition from oncological treatment to specialised palliative care at home on patient symptom burden was studied in the Domus randomised clinical trial. Participants had incurable cancer and limited treatment options. The intervention was provided by specialised palliative home teams (SPT) based in hospice or hospital and was enriched with a psychological intervention for patient and caregiver dyad. Symptom burden was measured with Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS-r) at baseline, 8 weeks and 6 months follow-up and analysed with mixed models. Survival and place of death was analysed with Kaplan-Meier and Fisher's exact tests.
RESULTS: The study included 322 patients. Tiredness was significantly improved for the Domus intervention group at 6 months while the other nine symptom outcomes were not significantly different from the control group. Exploring the efficacy of intervention provider demonstrated significant differences in favour of the hospice SPT on four symptoms and total symptom score. Patients with children responded more favourably to the intervention. The long-term follow-up demonstrated no differences between the intervention and the control groups regarding survival or home deaths.
CONCLUSIONS: The Domus intervention may reduce tiredness. Moreover, the intervention provider and having children might play a role concerning intervention efficacy. The intervention did not affect survival or home deaths.