Background: Malnutrition worsens health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and the prognosis of patients with advanced cancer. This study aimed to assess the clinical benefits of parenteral nutrition (PN) over oral feeding (OF) for patients with advanced cancer cachexia and without intestinal impairment.
Material and Methods: In this prospective multicentric randomized controlled study, patients with advanced cancer and malnutrition were randomly assigned to optimized nutritional care with or without supplemental PN. Zelen's method was used for randomization to facilitate inclusions. Nutritional and performance status and HRQoL using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C15-PAL questionnaire were evaluated at baseline and monthly until death. Primary endpoint was HRQoL deterioration-free survival (DFS) defined as a definitive deterioration of =10 points compared with baseline, or death.
Results: Among the 148 randomized patients, 48 patients were in the experimental arm with PN, 63 patients were in the control arm with OF only, and 37 patients were not included because of early withdrawal or refused consent. In an intent to treat analysis, there was no difference in HRQoL DFS between the PN arm or OF arm for the three targeted dimensions: global health (hazard ratio [HR], 1.31; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.88–1.94; p = .18), physical functioning (HR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.06–2.35; p = .024), and fatigue (HR, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.80–1.77; p = .40); there was a negative trend for overall survival among patients in the PN arm. In as treated analysis, serious adverse events (mainly infectious) were more frequent in the PN arm than in the OF arm (p = .01).
Conclusion: PN improved neither HRQoL nor survival and induced more serious adverse events than OF among patients with advanced cancer and malnutrition.
Clinical trial identification number. NCT02151214
Implications for Practice: This clinical trial showed that parenteral nutrition improved neither quality of life nor survival and generated more serious adverse events than oral feeding only among patients with advanced cancer cachexia and no intestinal impairment. Parenteral nutrition should not be prescribed for patients with advanced cancer, cachexia, and no intestinal failure when life expectancy is shorter than 3 months. Further studies are needed to assess the useful period with a potential benefit of artificial nutrition for patients with advanced cancer.
Introduction: Although shortcomings in clinician–family communication and decision making for incapacitated, critically ill patients are common, there are few rigorously tested interventions to improve outcomes. In this manuscript, we present our methodology for the Pairing Re-engineered Intensive Care Unit Teams with Nurse-Driven Emotional support and Relationship Building (PARTNER 2) trial, and discuss design challenges and their resolution.
Methods and analysis: This is a pragmatic, stepped-wedge, cluster randomised controlled trial comparing the PARTNER 2 intervention to usual care among 690 incapacitated, critically ill patients and their surrogates in five ICUs in Pennsylvania. Eligible subjects will include critically ill patients at high risk of death and/or severe long-term functional impairment, their main surrogate decision-maker and their clinicians. The PARTNER intervention is delivered by the interprofessional ICU team and overseen by 4–6 nurses from each ICU. It involves: (1) advanced communication skills training for nurses to deliver support to surrogates throughout the ICU stay; (2) deploying a structured family support pathway; (3) enacting strategies to foster collaboration between ICU and palliative care services and (4) providing intensive implementation support to each ICU to incorporate the family support pathway into clinicians’ workflow. The primary outcome is surrogates’ ratings of the quality of communication during the ICU stay as assessed by telephone at 6-month follow-up. Prespecified secondary outcomes include surrogates’ scores on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Impact of Event Scale, the modified Patient Perception of Patient Centredness scale, the Decision Regret Scale, nurses’ scores on the Maslach Burnout Inventory, and length of stay during and costs of the index hospitalisation.
We also discuss key methodological challenges, including determining the optimal level of randomisation, using existing staff to deploy the intervention and maximising long-term follow-up of participants.
Ethics and dissemination: We obtained ethics approval through the University of Pittsburgh, Human Research Protection Office. The findings will be published in peer-reviewed journals.
Importance: Family caregivers of persons with advanced heart failure perform numerous daily tasks to assist their relatives and are at high risk for distress and poor quality of life.
Objective: To determine the effect of a nurse-led palliative care telehealth intervention (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends Comprehensive Heart Failure for Patients and Caregivers [ENABLE CHF-PC]) on quality of life and mood of family caregivers of persons with New York Heart Association Class III/IV heart failure over 16 weeks.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This single-blind randomized clinical trial enrolled caregivers aged 18 years and older who self-identified as an unpaid close friend or family member who knew the patient well and who was involved with their day-to-day medical care. Participants were recruited from outpatient heart failure clinics at a large academic tertiary care medical center and a Veterans Affairs medical center from August 2016 to October 2018.
Intervention: Four weekly psychosocial and problem-solving support telephonic sessions lasting between 20 and 60 minutes facilitated by a trained nurse coach plus monthly follow-up for 48 weeks. The usual care group received no additional intervention.
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcomes were quality of life (measured using the Bakas Caregiver Outcomes Scale), mood (anxiety and/or depressive symptoms measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), and burden (measured using the Montgomery-Borgatta Caregiver Burden scales) over 16 weeks. Secondary outcomes were global health (measured using the PROMIS Global Health instrument) and positive aspects of caregiving.
Results: A total of 158 family caregivers were randomized, 82 to the intervention and 76 to usual care. The mean (SD) age was 57.9 (11.6) years, 135 (85.4%) were female, 82 (51.9%) were African American, and 103 (65.2%) were the patient’s spouse or partner. At week 16, the mean (SE) Bakas Caregiver Outcomes Scale score was 66.9 (2.1) in the intervention group and 63.9 (1.7) in the usual care group; over 16 weeks, the mean (SE) Bakas Caregiver Outcomes Scale score improved 0.7 (1.7) points in the intervention group and 1.1 (1.6) points in the usual care group (difference, -0.4; 95% CI, -5.1 to 4.3; Cohen d = -0.03). At week 16, no relevant between-group differences were observed between the intervention and usual care groups for the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale anxiety measure (mean [SE] improvement from baseline, 0.3 [0.3] vs 0.4 [0.3]; difference, -0.1 [0.5]; d = -0.02) or depression measure (mean [SE] improvement from baseline, -0.2 [0.4] vs -0.3 [0.3]; difference, 0.1 [0.5]; d = 0.03). No between-group differences were observed in the Montgomery-Borgatta Caregiver Burden scales (d range, -0.18 to 0.0). Differences in secondary outcomes were also not significant (d range, -0.22 to 0.0).
Conclusions and Relevance: This 2-site randomized clinical trial of a telehealth intervention for family caregivers of patients with advanced heart failure, more than half of whom were African American and most of whom were not distressed at baseline, did not demonstrate clinically better quality of life, mood, or burden compared with usual care over 16 weeks. Future interventions should target distressed caregivers and assess caregiver effects on patient outcomes.
Purpose: Advance care planning is an important component of quality palliative care. In Asian countries, few randomized clinical trials have been reported. This pilot randomized-controlled trial examined the effects of brief nurse intervention with visual materials on the goal-of-care preference, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) preference, and designation of a health care proxy.
Methods: This randomized clinical trial was performed from January to February 2018 on elderly Japanese patients with chronic disease. The patients were randomly assigned to a control group (brief nurse intervention using verbal descriptions) or intervention group (using visual materials). The primary endpoint was goal-of-care preference, and secondary outcomes included the following: (1) CPR preference, (2) presence of a designated health care proxy, (3) knowledge of CPR, and (4) readiness for advance care planning. Outcome measures were obtained at baseline and just after completion of the intervention.
Results: A total of 220 patients were enrolled (117 in the intervention group and 103 in the control group). All patients completed post-intervention measurement. There was no significant difference between the groups in any of the outcome measures, while <5% of the participants wanted life-prolonging care as the goal of care at the baseline. Before/after comparisons indicated that, in both groups, the number of participants who designated a health care proxy significantly increased (29% to 65% vs. 22% to 52%, respectively; p < 0.001 each); and the knowledge and readiness scores significantly increased. Moreover, there was a significant increase in the number of patients who did not want CPR (55% to 67% with a terminal condition, p = 0.003; 67% to 80% with a bedridden condition, p < 0.001) in the intervention group.
Conclusions: Brief nurse intervention increased documentation of a patient-designated health care proxy and improved the knowledge of CPR and patient readiness. Visual materials might help patients to imagine the actual situation regarding CPR.
Aim: To pilot test a home end-of-life and palliative care intervention for family caregivers and patients with rare advanced lung diseases and estimate effect-size for the power analysis in a future clinical trial.
Design: This study uses a parallel randomized control trial. Families are randomly assigned to the intervention group or the control group in a 1:1 fashion.
Methods: The study population includes patients with rare advanced lung diseases and their family caregivers who are involved in patients’ home care. The control group receives standard care through their hospital or outpatient clinics. The intervention group receives standard care plus 2-weekly home end-of-life and palliative care coaching by experienced community nurses. Primary outcome is breathlessness measured by shortness of breath scale. Secondary outcomes are: (1) caregivers’ anxiety and depression measures; (2) the presence of patient’s signed advance directives in the medical record or not; and (3) Helpfulness of intervention measured by self-report Helpfulness scale. The study was funded in October 2018 and received ethical Institutional Review Board approval in February 2019.
Discussion: West Virginia has one of the highest incidence rates of lung disease deaths in the nation. However, there is inadequate home end-of-life and palliative care for this underserved population. This is an initial interventional study of nurse-led coaching home-based palliative care for rare advanced lung diseases in rural Appalachia. Developing research collaboration with clinicians is essential for enrollment. Enrollment was successful due to regular meetings with pulmonologists who screened patients per the study inclusion criteria in their specialty clinic and made direct referrals to the research assistants. Results of this study will be used in the future trial.
Impact: The findings will contribute to the evidence-based home nursing care, planning for family/patient preferences and supportive end-of-life palliative care for managing advanced lung diseases at home.
Aims: To examine the impact of palliative care on acute care hospitalizations, survival, symptoms, and quality of life (QOL) in patients with advanced heart failure.
Methods and results: We conducted a systematic search of publications through CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, and MEDLINE originally up to July 2017, and then updated to June 2019. The study was registered (PROSPERO ID: CRD42017069685) prior to its initiation. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included that tested an interdisciplinary palliative care intervention (compared to usual care) primarily in a heart failure population. Main outcomes assessed were hospitalizations, mortality, QOL, and symptom burden. Ten independent RCTs were selected, representing a total of 1050 participants (921 with a diagnosis of heart failure). Compared with usual care, palliative care interventions were associated with a substantial reduction in hospitalizations [odds ratio 0.56 (0.33–0.94); four trials; I2 = 27%], modest improvement in QOL [standardized mean difference (SMD) 0.25; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.06–0.45; seven trials; I2 = 15%], and modest reduction in symptom burden (SMD -0.29; 95% CI -0.54–0.03; three trials; I2 = 15%). There was no clear adverse impact on mortality. Most studies had methodological limitations that increased the risk of biases.
Conclusion: Compared to usual care, palliative care interventions substantially reduce hospitalizations, with no clear adverse effect on survival. Effects on QOL and symptom burden appear to be modest, and indicate that further efforts to improve these patient centred outcomes are needed.
Delirium is a frequent condition in patients in a palliative care situation and most often associated with substantial burden or even danger for the persons concerned as well as caregivers and health-care-professionals. Despite the lack of randomized-controlled-trials (RCTs) benzodiazepines and neuroleptic agents are used extensively in palliative care for the pharmacological management of delirium. A focused review for RCTs assessing pharmacotherapy with benzodiazepines and neuroleptics for the treatment of delirium in patients treated in a palliative care or hospice setting published in 2017 was performed in PubMed. A narrative summary of the findings of the RCTs and practical recommendation are presented. Of 42 publications, two RCTs could be included. One trial assessed the use of lorazepam (in addition to haloperidol) in case of agitation, the other placebo or risperidone or haloperidol in delirious palliative care patients. Neither risperidone nor haloperidol were superior compared to placebo, but were associated with higher mortality and morbidity. Lorazepam (along with haloperidol) reduced agitation in patients with delirium compared to placebo (along with haloperidol), but was unable to reduce the severity and incidence of delirium. It is of importance to note that psychopharmacotherapy with antipsychotics is mainly indicated for the hyperactive form of delirium and psychotic symptoms (e.g., delusions or hallucinations) in the hyper- and hypoactive delirium. Severe agitation and aggressivity can be an indication for neuroleptics, when non-pharmacological interventions fail, whereas the use of benzodiazepines has to be limited to critical situations where neuroleptics cannot be applied and cases of delirium due to alcohol withdrawal. Both substances can aggravate, precipitate or mask delirium, result adverse events with substantial distress or unfavorable survival outcomes for the patients. Thus, they should only be used in severely symptomatic patients and the duration of the medication has to be limited in time. When delirium symptoms decay the psychopharmacotherapy has to be tapered. More important than psychopharmacotherapy, the thorough investigation and treatment of potentially reversible causes of delirium (e.g., pharmacotherapy, infection) and the routine identification of patients at risk for delirium along with prophylactic measures are essential. The recently published landmarks RCTs provide moderate evidence to adopt recommendations from other medical specialties (i.e., intensive care, geriatrics) to the field of palliative care.
BACKGROUND: To compare quality of life (QoL) of patients receiving early palliative care (EPC) vs. standard oncologic care (SOC).
METHODS: Pragmatic, multicenter, randomized trial at five University and Community Hospital Cancer Centers in Northern Italy. Advanced non-small cell lung, gastric, pancreatic and biliary tract cancer patients diagnosed within the previous 8 weeks. In the EPC arm, visits were performed systematically by a dedicated physician/nurse palliative care (PC) team, who assessed physical and psychosocial symptoms, and enacted the necessary services. In the SOC arm, PC visits were only carried out if requested. The primary outcome was the difference in the change of QoL [Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General measure (FACT-G)] from baseline to 12 weeks in the two groups.
RESULTS: From November 2014 to March 2016, 281 patients were enrolled (142 EPC, 139 SOC); 218 completed FACT-G at 12 weeks. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics were similar for the two groups. Values of FACT-G at baseline and 12 weeks were 72.3 (SD 12.6) and 70.1 (SD 15.5) for patients enrolled in the EPC arm, vs. 71.7 (SD 14.7) and 69.6 (SD 15.5) for the SOC arm, but the change scores did not differ significantly between groups. In the multivariable analysis, adjusting for QoL at baseline, two potential prospective prognostic factors were statistically significant: lung cancer (P=0.03) and interaction of living without a partner and intervention arm (P=0.01). Dying within 6 months (P<0.001) was also statistically significant.
CONCLUSIONS: In this study, EPC did not improve QoL in advanced cancer patients, but our findings highlight aspects which may guide future research on EPC.
BACKGROUND: Efforts to improve quality of end-of-life (EOL) care are increasingly focused on eliciting patients' EOL preference through advance care planning (ACP). However, if patients' EOL preference changes over time and their ACP documents are not updated, these documents may no longer be valid at the time EOL decisions are made.
OBJECTIVES: To assess extent and correlates of changes in stated preference for aggressive EOL care over time.
DESIGN: Secondary analysis of data from a randomized controlled trial of a formal ACP program versus usual care in Singapore.
PATIENTS: Two hundred eighty-two patients with heart failure (HF) and New York Heart Association Classification III and IV symptoms were recruited and interviewed every 4 months for up to 2 years to assess their preference for EOL care. Analytic sample included 200 patients interviewed at least twice.
RESULTS: Nearly two thirds (64%) of patients changed their preferred type of EOL care at least once. Proportion of patients changing their stated preference for type of EOL care increased with time and the change was not unidirectional. Patients who understood their prognosis correctly were less likely to change their preference from non-aggressive to aggressive EOL care (OR 0.66, p value 0.07) or to prefer aggressive EOL care (OR 0.53; p value 0.001). On the other hand, patient-surrogate discussion of care preference was associated with a higher likelihood of change in patient preference from aggressive to non-aggressive EOL care (OR 1.83; p value 0.03).
CONCLUSION: The study provides evidence of instability in HF patients' stated EOL care preference. This undermines the value of an ACP document recorded months before EOL decisions are made unless a strategy exists for easily updating this preference.
BACKGROUND: The aging of populations is rapidly accelerating worldwide. Especially, Japan has maintained the highest rate of population aging worldwide. As countermeasures, the Japanese government prioritized the promotion of local comprehensive care systems and collaboration in medical care and social (long-term) care. Development of a system to connect medical and social services in the community is necessary for the increasing older people, especially for the people in the stage of end of life.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to assess the effect of a multidisciplinary end-of-life educational intervention program on confidence in inter-professional collaboration and job satisfaction among health and social care professionals.
DESIGN: a cluster-randomized controlled trial.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Three professional groups (home care nurses, care managers, and heads of care workers) in an urban area participated in this trial.
INTERVENTION: We implemented a multidisciplinary end-of-life educational intervention program comprising two educational workshops and an educational booklet to support multidisciplinary care for end-of-life patients during the 7-month study period.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Confidence in improved interactions among professionals and job satisfaction were assessed with the Face-to-Face Cooperative Confidence Questionnaire and the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire at T1 (before intervention) and T2 (7 months after the intervention).
RESULTS: In total, 291 professionals participated in this study (experimental group n = 156; control group n = 135). Multivariate regression analyses showed significant between-group increases on all of seven subscales in participants' face-to-face cooperative confidence over the study period; no effect was evident regarding job satisfaction.
CONCLUSIONS: A multidisciplinary end-of-life educational intervention program increased confidence in multidisciplinary collaboration among health and social care professionals.
Background: Palliative systematic treatment offers uncertain and often limited benefits, and the burden can be high. Hence, treatment decisions require shared decision making (SDM). This trial examined the independent and combined effect of an oncologist training and a patient communication aid on SDM.
Methods: In this multicenter randomized controlled trial with four parallel arms (2016–2018), oncologists (n = 31) were randomized to receive SDM communication skills training or not. The training consisted of a reader, two group sessions, a booster session, and a consultation room tool (10 hours). Patients (n = 194) with advanced cancer were randomized to receive a patient communication aid or not. The aid consisted of education on SDM, a question prompt list, and a value clarification exercise. The primary outcome was observed SDM as rated by blinded observers from audio-recorded consultations. Secondary outcomes included patient-reported SDM, patient and oncologist satisfaction, patients’ decisional conflict, patient quality of life 3 months after consultation, consultation duration, and the decision made.
Results: The oncologist training had a large positive effect on observed SDM (Cohen's d = 1.12) and on patient-reported SDM (d = 0.73). The patient communication aid did not improve SDM. The combination of interventions did not add to the effect of training oncologists only. The interventions affected neither patient nor oncologist satisfaction with the consultation nor patients’ decisional conflict, quality of life, consultation duration, or the decision made.
Conclusion: Training medical oncologists in SDM about palliative systemic treatment improves both observed and patient-reported SDM. A patient communication aid does not. The incorporation of skills training in (continuing) educational programs for medical oncologists is likely to stimulate the widely advocated uptake of shared decision making in clinical practice. Trial registration. Netherlands Trial Registry NTR 5489.
Implications for Practice: Treatment for advanced cancer offers uncertain and often small benefits, and the burden can be high. Hence, treatment decisions require shared decision making (SDM). SDM is increasingly advocated for ethical reasons and for its beneficial effect on patient outcomes. Few initiatives to stimulate SDM are evaluated in robust designs. This randomized controlled trial shows that training medical oncologists improves both observed and patient-reported SDM in clinical encounters (n = 194). A preconsultation communication aid for patients did not add to the effect of training oncologists. SDM training effectively changes oncologists’ practice and should be implemented in (continuing) educational programs.
BACKGROUND, AIM, AND HYPOTHESIS: This randomized controlled trial aimed to compare the impact of a physician's attire on the perceptions of patients with cancer of compassion, professionalism, and physician preference. Our hypothesis was that patients would perceive the physician with formal attire as more compassionate than the physician wearing casual attire.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: One hundred five adult follow-up patients with advanced cancer were randomized to watch two standardized, 3-minute video vignettes with the same script, depicting a routine physician-patient clinic encounter. Videos included a physician in formal attire with tie and buttoned-up white coat and casual attire without a tie or white coat. Actors, patients, and investigators were all blinded to the purpose and videos watched, respectively. After each video, patients completed validated questionnaires rating their perception of physician compassion, professionalism, and their overall preference for the physician.
RESULTS: There were no significant differences between formal and casual attire for compassion (median [interquartile range], 25 [10-31] vs. 20 [8-27]; p = .31) and professionalism (17 [13-21] vs. 18 [14-22]; p = .42). Thirty percent of patients preferred formal attire, 31% preferred casual attire, and 38% had no preference. Subgroup analysis did not show statistically significant differences among different cohorts of age, sex, marital status, and education level.
CONCLUSION: Doctors' attire did not affect the perceptions of patients with cancer of physician's level of compassion and professionalism, nor did it influence the patients' preference for their doctor or their trust and confidence in the doctor's ability to provide care. There is a need for more studies in this area of communications skills.
Clinical trial identification number. NCT03168763
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The significance of physician attire as a means of nonverbal communication has not been well characterized. It is an important element to consider, as patient preferences vary geographically, are influenced by cultural beliefs, and may vary based on particular care settings. Previous studies consisted of nonblinded surveys and found increasing confidence in physicians wearing a professional white coat. Unfortunately, there are no randomized controlled trials, to the authors' knowledge, to confirm the survey findings. In this randomized, blinded clinical trial the researchers found that physician's attire did not affect patients' perception of the physician's level of compassion and professionalism. Attire also did not influence the patients' preferences for their doctor or their trust and confidence in the doctor's ability to provide care.
BACKGROUND: Evaluations of complex interventions compared to usual care provided in palliative care are increasing. Not describing usual care may affect the interpretation of an intervention's effectiveness, yet how it can be described remains unclear.
AIM: To demonstrate the feasibility of using multi-methods to describe usual care provided in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of complex interventions, shown within a feasibility cluster RCT.
DESIGN: Multi-method approach comprising usual care questionnaires, baseline case note review and focus groups with ward staff completed at study end. Thematic analysis of qualitative data, descriptive statistics of quantitative data, followed by methodological triangulation to appraise approach in relation to study aim.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Four general medical wards chosen from UK hospitals. Purposive sampling of healthcare professionals for usual care questionnaires, and focus groups. Review of 20 patients’ notes from each ward who died during admission or within 100 days of discharge.
RESULTS: Twenty-three usual care questionnaires at baseline, two focus groups comprising 20 healthcare professionals and 80 case note reviews. Triangulation of findings resulted in understanding the usual care provided to the targeted population in terms of context, structures, processes and outcomes for patients, families and healthcare professionals. Usual care was described, highlighting (1) similarities and embedded practices, (2) heterogeneity and (3) subtle changes in care during the trial within and across sites.
CONCLUSIONS: We provide a feasible approach to defining usual care that can be practically adopted in different settings. Understanding usual care enhances the reliability of tested complex interventions, and informs research and policy priorities.
AIM: To evaluate the feasibility of a structured nurse-led supportive intervention and its effects on family caregivers in end-of-life care at home.
BACKGROUND: Family caregivers are crucial in end-of-life care. They may experience burden due to the responsibilities associated with caregiving. Some family caregivers feel insufficiently prepared for their caregiver role. Nurses have a unique position to provide supportive interventions at home to reduce caregivers' burden and improve preparedness. However, few nurse-led interventions are available to support family caregivers in end-of-life care at home.
DESIGN: We will perform a cluster randomised controlled trial. The clusters consist of twelve home care services, randomly assigned to the intervention group or the control group.
METHODS: The study population consists of family caregivers of patients in the last phase of life. In the intervention group, nurses will systematically assess the supportive needs of family caregivers, using an assessment tool and the method of clinical reasoning. Family members of the control group receive care as usual. Primary outcome is burden measured by the Self-Rated Burden Scale. Secondary outcomes are preparedness for caregiving, caregiving reactions and acute (hospital) admissions of the patient. In addition, the feasibility of the intervention will be evaluated. The study was funded in October 2016 and was ethically approved in April 2019.
IMPACT: Findings from this study will contribute to the scientific and practical knowledge of nursing interventions to support family caregivers in end-of-life care.
Background: There is no evidence on effectiveness of Advance care planning (ACP) among heart failure (HF) patients. We examined the effect of an ACP program in facilitating EOL care consistent with HF patients’ preferences (primary aim), and on their decisional conflict, discussion with surrogates, illness understanding, anxiety, depression and quality of life (secondary aims).
Methods: We randomized 282 HF patients to receive ACP (n=93) or usual care (control arm, n=189). Primary outcomes were assessed among deceased (n=89) and secondary outcomes from baseline and 6 follow-ups conducted every 4 months.
Results: Deceased patients in ACP arm were no more likely than those in control arm to have wishes followed for EOL treatments (ACP: 35%, Control: 44%; p=0.47), or place of death (ACP: 52%, Control: 51%; p-value=1.00). A higher proportion in ACP arm had wishes followed for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ACP: 83%, Control: 62%; p=0.12). At first follow-up, ACP patients had lower decisional conflict (ß=-10.8, p <0.01) and were more likely to discuss preferences with surrogates (ß=1.3, p=0.04). ACP did not influence other outcomes.
Conclusion: This trial did not confirm that our ACP program was effective in facilitating EOL care consistent with their preferences. The program led to short-term improvements in the decision-making.
CONTEXT: There is little evidence of the effectiveness of aromatherapy massage in palliative care despite its popularity.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate the effects of a 30-minute single session of aromatherapy massage at night-time on quality of sleep and fatigue in palliative care.
METHODS: A randomized controlled trial from January 2018 to March 2019. After being stratified by sex, participants were randomly assigned to an aromatherapy massage group and a control group. The effects of aromatherapy massage were evaluated on the massage day and the next day using the Richards-Campbell Sleep Questionnaire (RCSQ) and the Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI).
RESULTS: Of the 74 participants, data of 27 participants in the treatment group and 30 in the control group were analyzed. ANCOVA indicated that quality of sleep and fatigue did not improve owing to the aromatherapy massage, although usual fatigue in preceding 24 hours and enjoyment of life subscales of the BFI showed signs of contribution (p = 0.07 and p = 0.09, respectively). Post hoc analyses indicated that higher age and performance status were factors with moderate correlation with better sleep (p = 0.03, r = 0.45, and p = 0.03, r = 0.40, respectively), and that older patients tended to experience greater improvement in fatigue (p = 0.02, r = -0.47).
CONCLUSION: A single aromatherapy massage session is no more effective than not having a massage in improving sleep quality in palliative care settings. However, older patients and those in poor health conditions may benefit from aromatherapy massage.
Effective communication between clinicians and seriously ill patients and their families about a patient's goals of care is essential to patient-centered, goal-concordant, end-of-life care. Effective goals-of-care communication between clinicians and patients is associated with improved patient and family outcomes, increased clinician satisfaction, and decreased health care costs. Unfortunately, clinicians often face barriers in goals-of-care communication and collaboration, including a lack of education, time constraints, and no standardized protocols. Without clear goals-of-care communication, patients may not be able to provide guidance to clinicians about their end-of-life preferences. The purpose of this integrative review was to examine the efficacy of goals-of-care communication interventions between patients, families, and clinicians in randomized controlled trials published between 2009 and 2018. Twenty-three studies met the inclusion criteria with an overall sample (N = 6376) of patients, family members, and clinicians. Results revealed of the 6 different intervention modes, patient decision aids and patient-clinician communication consistently increased comprehension and communication. Twelve of the studies had nurses facilitate or support the communication intervention. Because nurses are a critical, trusted nexus for communication about end-of-life care, focusing on nurse interventions may significantly improve clinical outcomes and the patient experience.
Background: Critical illness increases the risk for poor mental health outcomes among both patients and their informal caregivers, especially their surrogate decision-makers. Surrogates who must make life-and-death medical decisions on behalf of incapacitated patients may experience additional distress. EMPOWER (Enhancing & Mobilizing the POtential for Wellness & Emotional Resilience) is a novel cognitive-behavioral, acceptance-based intervention delivered in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting to surrogate decision-makers designed to improve both patients’ quality of life and death and dying as well as surrogates’ mental health.
Methods: Clinician stakeholder and surrogate participant feedback (n = 15), as well as results from an open trial (n = 10), will be used to refine the intervention, which will then be evaluated through a multisite randomized controlled trial (RCT) (n = 60) to examine clinical superiority to usual care. Feasibility, tolerability, and acceptability of the intervention will be evaluated through self-report assessments. Hierarchical linear modeling will be used to adjust for clustering within interventionists to determine the effect of EMPOWER on surrogate differences in the primary outcome, peritraumatic stress. Secondary outcomes will include symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, prolonged grief disorder, and experiential avoidance. Exploratory outcomes will include symptoms of anxiety, depression, and decision regret, all measured at 1 and 3 months from post-intervention assessment. Linear regression models will examine the effects of assignment to EMPOWER versus the enhanced usual care group on patient quality of life or quality of death and intensity of care the patient received during the indexed ICU stay assessed at the time of the post-intervention assessment. Participant exit interviews will be conducted at the 3-month assessment time point and will be analyzed using qualitative thematic data analysis methods.
Discussion: The EMPOWER study is unique in its application of evidence-based psychotherapy targeting peritraumatic stress to improve patient and caregiver outcomes in the setting of critical illness. The experimental intervention will be strengthened through the input of a variety of ICU stakeholders, including behavioral health clinicians, physicians, bereaved informal caregivers, and open trial participants. Results of the RCT will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and serve as preliminary data for a larger, multisite RCT grant application.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03276559. Retrospectively registered on 8 September 2017.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care trials have higher rates of attrition. The MORECare guidance recommends applying classifications of attrition to report attrition to help interpret trial results. The guidance separates attrition into three categories: attrition due to death, illness or at random. The aim of our study is to apply the MORECare classifications on reported attrition rates in trials.
METHODS: A systematic review was conducted and attrition classifications retrospectively applied. Four databases, EMBASE; Medline, CINHAL and PsychINFO, were searched for randomised controlled trials of palliative care populations from 01.01.2010 to 08.10.2016. This systematic review is part of a larger review looking at recruitment to randomised controlled trials in palliative care, from January 1990 to early October 2016. We ran random-effect models with and without moderators and descriptive statistics to calculate rates of missing data.
RESULTS: One hundred nineteen trials showed a total attrition of 29% (95% CI 28 to 30%). We applied the MORECare classifications of attrition to the 91 papers that contained sufficient information. The main reason for attrition was attrition due to death with a weighted mean of 31.6% (SD 27.4) of attrition cases. Attrition due to illness was cited as the reason for 17.6% (SD 24.5) of participants. In 50.8% (SD 26.5) of cases, the attrition was at random. We did not observe significant differences in missing data between total attrition in non-cancer patients (26%; 95% CI 18-34%) and cancer patients (24%; 95% CI 20-29%). There was significantly more missing data in outpatients (29%; 95% CI 22-36%) than inpatients (16%; 95% CI 10-23%). We noted increased attrition in trials with longer durations.
CONCLUSION: Reporting the cause of attrition is useful in helping to understand trial results. Prospective reporting using the MORECare classifications should improve our understanding of future trials.
BACKGROUND: Research has highlighted the need for improving the implementation of advance care planning (ACP) in nursing homes. We developed a theory-based multicomponent ACP intervention (the ACP+ programme) aimed at supporting nursing home staff with the implementation of ACP into routine nursing home care. We describe here the protocol of a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) that aims to evaluate the effects of ACP+ on nursing home staff and volunteer level outcomes and its underlying processes of change.
METHODS: We will conduct a cluster RCT in Flanders, Belgium. Fourteen eligible nursing homes will be pair-matched and one from each pair will be randomised to either continue care and education as usual or to receive the ACP+ programme (a multicomponent programme which is delivered stepwise over an eight-month period with the help of an external trainer). Primary outcomes are: nursing home care staff's knowledge of, and self-efficacy regarding ACP. Secondary outcomes are: 1) nursing home care staff's attitudes towards ACP and ACP practices; 2) support staff's and volunteer's ACP practices and 3) support staff's and volunteers' self-efficacy. Measurements will be performed at baseline and eight months post-measurement, using structured self-reported questionnaires. A process evaluation will accompany the outcome evaluation in the intervention group, with measurements throughout and post-intervention to assess implementation, mechanisms of impact and context and will be carried out using a mixed-methods design.
DISCUSSION: There is little high-quality evidence regarding the effectiveness and underlying processes of change of ACP in nursing homes. This combined outcome and process evaluation of the ACP+ programme aims to contribute to building the necessary evidence to improve ACP and its uptake for nursing home residents and their family.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (no. NCT03521206). Registration date: May 10, 2018. Inclusion of nursing homes started March, 2018. Hence, the trial was retrospectively registered but before end of data collection and analyses.