Purpose: To evaluate factors associated with continuation of systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT) after palliative care consultation, and SACT administration in the last 30 days of life, in outpatients with cancer referred to palliative care. Timing of referral was of particular interest.
Methods: Patient, disease, and treatment-related factors associated with SACT before and after palliative care, and in the last 30 days of life, were identified using 3-level multinomial logistic regression. Referral to palliative care was categorized by time from death as early (>12 months), intermediate (6-12 months), and late (=6 months).
Results: Of the 337 patients, 240 (71.2%) received SACT for advanced cancer; of these, 126 (52.5%) received SACT only prior to palliative care while 114 (47.5%) also received SACT afterward. Only 35/337 (10.4%) received SACT in the last 30 days of life. On multivariable analysis, factors associated with continuing SACT after palliative care consultation were a cancer diagnosis for <1 year (OR 3.09, p = 0.01), breast primary (OR 11.88, p = 0.0008), and early (OR 28.8, p < 0.001) or intermediate (OR 6.67, p < 0.001) referral timing. No factors were significantly associated with receiving SACT in the last 30 days versus earlier, but the median time from palliative care referral to death in those receiving SACT in the last 30 days versus stopping SACT earlier was 1.78 versus 4.27 months.
Conclusion: Patients who received SACT following palliative care consultation were more likely to be referred early; however, patients receiving SACT in their last 30 days tended to be referred late.
Background: Radiation monotherapy effectively relieves symptoms of esophageal cancer. Many studies have reported relief from dysphagia with this treatment; however, the degree of the dysphagia is subjective.
On the other hand, the length of outpatient management is objective. In this study, we investigated how radiation monotherapy can contribute to helping elderly patients with esophageal cancer remain as outpatients.
Methods: Between January 2010 and December 2017, we followed 42 patients aged >75 years who underwent radiation monotherapy for esophageal carcinoma. Of these patients, 36 were included in
the study. We retrospectively collected data on the patients’ characteristics, tumor extension around the circumference of the esophagus, medical procedures, prognosis, cause of death, and outpatient management
period. We also analyzed the relationships between the outpatient management period, the clinical stage, and the circumferential extension of the tumor.
Results: Of the 36 patients (26 males, 10 females), 27 were treated using doses of 60 or 66 Gy, and 9 received 40 or 50 Gy. The median survival period of the patients who died during the study was 14 months,
and their median period of outpatient management was 9 months. Eight of the 12 patients with tumors extending across four-fifths or the entire circumference of the esophagus required medical intervention to
administer nutrition. There were no significant differences in the period of outpatient management among the patients who died during the study in terms of clinical stage and horizontal location.
Conclusions: Radiation monotherapy may facilitate outpatient management; however, patients with tumors extending all or most of the circumference of the esophagus required an additional medical procedure.
Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the psychosocial distress and associated factors in advanced cancer patients consulting at the outpatient Palliative Care Unit at the National Cancer Institute in Mexico City.
Design: A retrospective study was conducted using electronic records (June 2015 to December 2016).
Sample: A total of 646 patients with advanced cancer during their first visit to the outpatient palliative care unit at the National Cancer Institute in Mexico were evaluated using the Distress Thermometer (DT) and ECOG performance status scores.
Findings: Overall, 62% were women, with a median age of 57 years, and married (54.8%). The most frequent diagnosis was gastrointestinal cancer (28.6%), and 38.9% had a functional performance status of ECOG 2. The median DT score was 4.0 (IQR = 2–6), with 56% reporting DT scores =4. The three most frequent problems =4 were sadness (82.6%), feeling weak (81.2%), worry (79.6%), and <4 were feeling weak (57.7%), fatigue (55.6%), and financial security (52.1%). The variables associated with distress according to the multiple logistic regression analysis were problems with housing (OR = 2.661, 95% CI = 1.538–4.602), sadness (OR = 2.533, 95% CI = 1.615–3.973), transportation (OR = 1.732, 95% CI = 1.157–2.591), eating (OR = 1.626, 95% CI = 1.093–2.417), nervousness (OR = 1.547, 95% CI = 1.014–2.360), and sleep (OR = 1.469, 95% CI = 1.980–2.203).
Conclusion: The principal factors were related to distress levels, housing problems, transportation issues, and emotional problems such as sadness, nervousness, lower functionality, and younger age. Therefore, psychosocial support is of considerable relevance in palliative care. These findings will help clinicians understand the distress of patients with advanced cancer in palliative care in Latin American countries.
PURPOSE: ASCO recommends early integration of palliative care in treating patients diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. Our study sought to examine utilization of timely specialty palliative care (SPC) and its association with survival and cost outcomes in patients diagnosed with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
METHODS: The 2001-2015 SEER-Medicare data were used to determine the baseline characteristics and outcomes of 79,253 patients with metastatic NSCLC. The predictors of early SPC use were examined using logistic regression. Mean and adjusted total and SPC-related costs were calculated using generalized linear regression. We used Cox regression model to determine the survival outcomes by SPC service settings. All statistical tests were two sided.
RESULTS: The time from cancer diagnosis to the first SPC use has reduced significantly, from 13.7 weeks in 2001 to 8.3 weeks in 2015 (P < .001). SPC use was associated with lower health care costs compared with those who had no SPC, from -$3,180 in 2011 (P < .001) to -$1,285 in 2015 (P = .059). Outpatient SPC use was associated with improved survival compared with patients who received SPC in other settings (hazard ratio, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.79 to 0.88; P < .001).
CONCLUSION: Patients diagnosed with metastatic NSCLC now have more timely SPC service utilization, which was demonstrated to be a cost-saving treatment. Strategies to improve outpatient palliative care use might be associated with longer survival in patients with metastatic NSCLC.
Objectives: Although early palliative care is associated with a better quality of life and improved outcomes in end-of-life cancer care, the criteria of palliative care referral are still elusive.
Methods: We collected patient-reported symptoms using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) at the baseline, first and second follow-up visits. A total of 71 patients were evaluable, with a median age of 65 years, male (62%) and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status distribution of 1/2/3 (28%/39%/33%) respectively.
Results: Twenty (28%) patients had moderate/severe symptom burden with the mean ESAS = 5. Interestingly, most of the patients with moderate/severe symptom burdens (ESAS = 5) had globally elevated symptom expression. While the mean ESAS score was maintained in patients with mild symptom burden (ESAS < 5; 2.7 at the baseline; 3.4 at the first follow-up; 3.0 at the second follow-up; p = .117), there was significant symptom improvement in patients with moderate/severe symptom burden (ESAS = 5; 6.5 at the baseline; 4.5 at the first follow-up; 3.6 at the second follow-up; p < .001).
Conclusions: In conclusion, advanced cancer patients with ESAS = 5 may benefit from outpatient palliative cancer care. Pre-screening of patient-reported symptoms using ESAS can be useful for identifying unmet palliative care needs in advanced cancer patients.
CONTEXT: Although high quality research with patients and family members is needed to improve palliative care, difficulties in recruitment are often reported.
OBJECTIVES: The present article analyses the authors` experiences in recruiting participants of two types of dyads for the study 'Dy@EoL - Interaction at the end of life in dyads of parents and adult children'. Recruitment challenges and factors found to improve recruitment are examined.
METHODS: Between February 2018 and November 2019, the research team cooperated with diverse inpatient and ambulatory palliative and hospice care providers to recruit both dyads. Cooperation strategies and adaptations were protocolled. Data on (non-)participation were recorded and analysed using descriptive statistics.
RESULTS: The recruitment rate was 34.6% (dyad 1, terminally ill adult children with parents: 36.4%; dyad 2, terminally ill parents with adult children: 33.9%). In total, 82.2% of participants were recruited from inpatient settings. The research team has applied various strategies, such as public outreach activities and the extension of recruitment partners. The study protocol was adapted at an early stage to include single participants. Of all patients, 47.7% participated without their dyad partner. The main reason to exclude their family member was the patients' wish to protect them from extra burden.
CONCLUSION: The recruitment was more successful in inpatient than in ambulatory settings. The extension of recruitment partners was beneficial to recruit participants from ambulatory contexts. The inclusion of single participants was conducive as a great number of patients participated without their dyad partner. Sharing the obtained experiences can be helpful for future research planning.
Background: Early referral of cancer patients for palliative care significantly improves the quality of life. It is not clear which patients can benefit from an early referral, and when the referral should occur. A Delphi Panel study proposed 11 major criteria for an outpatient palliative care referral.
Objective: To operationalize major Delphi criteria in a cohort of lung cancer patients, using a prospective approach, by linking health administrative data.
Design: Population-based observational cohort study.
Setting/Subjects: The study population comprised 38,851 cases of lung cancer in the Ontario Cancer Registry, diagnosed from January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2016.
Measurements: We operationalized 6 of the 11 major criteria (4 diagnosis or prognosis based and 2 symptom based). Patients were considered eligible (index event) for palliative care if they qualified for any criterion. Among eligible patients, we identified those who received palliative care.
Results: Twenty-eight thousand one hundred sixty-four patients were eligible for palliative care by qualifying for either the diagnosis- or prognosis-based criteria (n = 21,036, 76.5%), or for symptom-based criteria (n = 7128, 23.5%). A total of 23,199 (82.4%) patients received palliative care. The median time from palliative care eligibility to the receipt of first palliative care or death or maximum study follow-up was 56 days (range = 17–348).
Conclusions: We operationalized six major criteria that identified the majority of lung cancer patients who were eligible for palliative care. Most eligible patients received the palliative care before death. Future research is warranted to test these criteria in other cancer populations.
BACKGROUND: Disparities in the utilization, expenditures, and quality of care by insurance types have been well documented. Such comparisons have yet to be investigated in end-of-life (EOL) settings in China, where public insurance covers over 95% of the Chinese population. This study examined the associations between health insurance and EOL care in the last six months of life: outpatient visits, emergency department (ED) visits, inpatient services, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, expenditures, and place of death among the cancer patients.
METHODS: A total of 398 patients diagnosed with cancer who survived more than 6 months after diagnosis and died from July 2015 to June 2017 in urban Yichang, China, were included. Descriptive analysis and multivariate regression models were used to investigate the bivariate and independent associations, respectively, between health insurance with EOL healthcare utilization, expenditures and place of death.
RESULTS: Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance (UEBMI) beneficiaries visited EDs more frequently than Urban Resident-based Basic Medical Insurance (URBMI) and New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme (NRCMS) beneficiaries (marginal effects [95% Confidence Interval]: 2.15 [1.81-2.48] and 1.92 [1.59-2.26], respectively). NRCMS and UEBMI beneficiaries had more hospitalizations than URBMI beneficiaries (1.01 [0.38-1.64] and 0.71 [0.20-1.22], respectively). Compared to URBMI beneficiaries, NRCMS beneficiaries and UEBMI beneficiaries had ¥15,722 and ¥43,241 higher expenditures. Similarly, UEBMI beneficiaries were most likely to die in hospitals, followed by NRCMS (UEBMI vs. NRCMS: 0.23 [0.11-0.36]) and URBMI (UEBMI vs. URBMI: 0.67 [0.57-0.78]) beneficiaries.
CONCLUSIONS: The disproportionately lower utilization of EOL care among NRCMS and URBMI beneficiaries, compared to UEBMI beneficiaries, raised concerns regarding quality of EOL care and financial burdens of NRCMS and URBMI beneficiaries. Purposive hospice care intervention might be warranted to address EOL care for these beneficiaries in China.
PURPOSE: Young adults (YAs; defined as 18-39 years of age) with advanced cancer are a group for whom standardized age-appropriate palliative care has not been established. The purpose of this study was to explore the YA experience and perceptions of palliative care in an outpatient interdisciplinary palliative care clinic for this population.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Using an interpretive descriptive design, semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 YAs with advanced cancer who were being seen jointly by a palliative care physician and psychiatrist in an ambulatory palliative care clinic. Interviews explored participants' understanding and experiences of receiving palliative care. Six family members were also interviewed to build on the YA experience. Data collection and analysis occurred concurrently, drawing on the constructivist grounded theory method to analyze the data.
RESULTS: Participants described being referred to and seen in the interdisciplinary palliative care clinic as a conflicting and at times difficult experience because of the feeling of being categorized as palliative as YAs. Even so, there were key aspects associated with the specific palliative care approach that allowed YAs to cope with this new label, leading to a beneficial experience, specifically: provided YAs with time and space to explore the experience of having cancer at a younger age, created repeat opportunities to talk openly with people who "got it," and highlighted the importance of including family support in the care of YAs.
CONCLUSION: YAs who were referred to the interdisciplinary palliative care clinic struggled with the category of palliative care but also found the care they received beneficial. Findings provide an approach to palliative care tailored to YAs with advanced cancer.
The Indian Society for Study of Pain (ISSP), Cancer Pain Special Interest Group guidelines on palliative care aspects in cancer pain in adults provide a structured, stepwise approach which will help to improve the management of cancer pain and to provide the patients with a minimally acceptable quality of life. The guidelines have been developed based on the available literature and evidence, to suit the needs, patient population, and situations in India. A questionnaire based on the key elements of each sub draft addressing certain inconclusive areas where evidence was lacking was made available on the ISSP website and circulated by E-mail to all the ISSP and Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC) members. In a cancer care setting, approaches toward managing pain vary between ambulatory setting, home care setting, acute inpatient setting, and end-of-life care in hospice setting. We aim to expound the cancer pain management approaches in these settings. In an ambulatory palliative care setting, the WHO analgesic step ladder is used for cancer pain management. The patients with cancer pain require admission for acute inpatient palliative care unit for poorly controlled pain in ambulatory and home care settings, rapid opioid titration, titration of difficult drugs such as methadone, acute pain crisis, pain neuromodulation, and pain interventions. In a palliative home care setting, the cancer pain is usually assessed and managed by nurses and primary physicians with a limited input from the specialist physicians. In patients with cancer at the end of life, the pain should be assessed at least once a day. Moreover, physicians should be trained in assessing patients with pain who are unable to verbalize or have cognitive impairment.
PURPOSE: Guidelines recommend earlier advance care planning discussions focused on goals and values (serious illness communication) among oncology patients. We conducted a prospective, cross-sectional quality improvement evaluation of patients who had a serious illness conversation (SIC) with an oncology clinician using the Serious Illness Conversation Guide to understand patient perceptions of conversations using a structured guide.
METHODS: We contacted 66 oncology patients with an SIC documented in the electronic health record. Thirty-two patients (48%) responded to survey and/or structured interview questions by telephone. We used summary statistics and thematic analysis to analyze results.
RESULTS: Twenty-eight respondents (90%) reported that the SIC was worthwhile. Seventeen respondents (55%) reported that the conversation increased their understanding of their future health, and 18 (58%) reported that the conversation increased their sense of closeness with their clinician. Although the majority of respondents (28 [90%]) reported that the conversation increased (13 [42%]) or had no effect (15 [48%]) on their hopefulness, a small minority (3 [10%]) reported a decrease in hopefulness. Qualitative analysis revealed 6 themes: clinician-patient relationship, impact on well-being, memorable characteristics of the conversation, improved prognostic understanding, practical planning, and family communication.
CONCLUSION: SICs are generally acceptable to oncology patients (nonharmful to the vast majority, positive for many). Our qualitative analysis suggests a positive impact on prognostic understanding and end-of-life planning, but opportunities for improvement in the delivery of prognosis and preparing patients for SICs. Our data also identify a small cohort who responded negatively, highlighting an important area for future study.
INTRODUCTION: A high outpatient clinic no-show rate affects clinical outcomes, increases healthcare costs, and reduces both access to care and provider productivity. In an effort to reduce the no-show rate at a busy palliative medicine outpatient clinic, a quality improvement project was launched consisting of a telephone call made by clinic staff prior to appointments. The study aimed to determine the effect of this intervention on the no-show rate, and assess the financial impact of a decreased no-show rate.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: The outpatient clinic no-show rate was measured from September 1 to December 31, 2015. Data from the first 8 months of the calendar year was removed since these could not be verified. Starting January 1, 2016, patients received a telephone call reminder 24 hours prior to their scheduled outpatient appointment for confirmation. No-show rate was again measured for the calendar year 2016. Opportunity costs were calculated for unfulfilled clinic visits.
RESULTS: Of the 1224 completed visits from September 1 to December 31, 2015, 271 were no-shows with an average rate of 11.8%. After the intervention, there were 4368 completed visits and 562 no-shows. The no-show rate for 2016 averaged 6.9% (p < 0.001), down 4.9% from the last 4 months of 2015. Estimated opportunity costs were about 396 no-show visits avoided, equivalent to an annual savings of about $79,200.
CONCLUSION: A telephone call reminder to patients 24 hours prior to their appointment decreased the no-show rate in an outpatient palliative medicine clinic. Avoiding unfulfilled visits resulted in substantial opportunity costs.
Background: Early integration of palliative care (PC) for patients with heart failure (HF) improves patient outcomes and decreases health care utilization. PC provided outside of an acute hospitalization is not well understood.
Objective: To synthesize the literature of outpatient PC in HF to identify the current landscape, the impact on patient health outcomes, key stakeholders' perspectives, and future implications for research and practice.
Design: A systematic search of PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Cochrane, and Web of Science was conducted from inception to February 2019 for studies of outpatient PC in adults with HF. Each study was analyzed to describe study characteristics, location of PC, types of providers involved, participant characteristics, and main findings, and to characterize domains of PC addressed.
Results: Most studies (N = 19) employed a quantitative design and were conducted in the United States. The most common locations of PC were the home or PC clinic and providers were mainly PC specialists. Outpatient PC improved quality of life, alleviated symptoms, and decreased rehospitalizations for patients with HF. No study addressed all eight domains of PC. The structural, physical, and psychological domains were commonly addressed, whereas, least commonly addressed domains were the cultural and ethical/legal domain. Women and ethnic minorities were underrepresented in the majority of samples.
Conclusions: This integrative review highlights the need to promote primary PC and future PC research focusing on a holistic, integrated, team-based approach addressing all domains of PC in representative samples.
Background: Although outpatient palliative care clinics (OPCCs) provide a venue for early, pre-emptive referral to palliative care on a routine basis, some patients will continue to require urgent referrals. The purpose of this study was to characterise these urgent referrals to determine whether they reflect clinical need or convenience.
Methods: We retrospectively compared new patients in an OPCC who were seen urgently versus those seen at routine appointments. Descriptive statistics compared the two groups in terms of clinical characteristics, referring teams, symptoms, performance status and outcomes. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with urgent referral to the OPCC. Overall survival was compared using the log-rank test.
Results: Between January 2016 and December 2017, a total of 113 urgent referrals were reviewed in the OPCC; these were compared with a random sample of 217 routine referrals. Patients seen urgently were more likely to be referred by surgical oncology, and to report worse symptom scores for pain (p=0.0007), tiredness (p=0.02), well-being (p=0.001), constipation (p=0.02) and sleep (p=0.01). More patients seen urgently required direct admission to hospital following the visit (17.7% vs 0.9%, p<0.001). Median survival was shorter for patients seen urgently (4.3 months, 95% CI 3.4 to 7.8) versus routinely (8.1 months, 95% CI 7.2 to 9.5).
Conclusions: Compared with routine referrals, new patients seen urgently in the OPCC had higher symptom burden, shorter median survival and a greater chance of direct admission to hospital. Palliative care clinics should consider how best to accommodate urgent referrals.
Background: Chronic breathlessness is a disabling syndrome that profoundly impacts patients’ and caregivers’ lives. Driving is important for most people, including those with advanced disease. Regular, low-dose, sustained-release morphine safely reduces breathlessness, but little is known about its impact on driving.
Aim: To understand patients’ and caregivers’ (1) perspectives and experiences of driving with chronic breathlessness; and (2) perceived impact of regular, low-dose, sustained-release morphine on driving.
Design: A qualitative study embedded in a pragmatic, phase III, randomised, placebo-controlled trial of low-dose, sustained-release morphine (<=32 mg/24 h) for chronic breathlessness. Semi-structured interviews were conducted immediately after participants withdrew or completed the randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Informed by grounded theory, a constant comparative approach to analysis was adopted.
Setting/participants: Participants were recruited from an outpatients palliative care service in Adelaide, Australia. Participants included patients (n = 13) with severe breathlessness associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and their caregivers (n = 9).
Results: Participants were interviewed at home. Eleven received morphine 8–32 mg. Three themes emerged: (1) independence; (2) breathlessness’ impact on driving; and (3) driving while taking regular, low-dose, sustained-release morphine.
Conclusion: Driving contributed to a sense of identity and independence. Being able to drive increased the physical and social space available to patients and caregivers, their social engagement and well-being. Patients reported breathlessness at rest may impair driving skills, while the introduction of sustained-release morphine seemed to have no self-reported impact on driving. Investigating this last perception objectively, especially in terms of safety, is the subject of ongoing work.
Background: Integrated pediatric palliative oncology (PPO) outpatient models are emerging to assist oncologists, children, and families throughout their course with cancer. Significant time is devoted to care coordination (“nonbillable” time), but the scope, time per patient, and ratio of nonbillable to billable (NB:B) minutes are unknown. This information is crucial to designing new PPO outpatient clinics and advocating for appropriate personnel, physician time, and resources. Our objectives were to quantify nonbillable time and evaluate demographic or disease-based associations.
Methods: A single-institution one-day PPO clinic was started in July 2017. All encounters were tracked for 11 months. Administrative and PPO inpatient time were excluded. Billable and nonbillable minutes were recorded daily. Ratios of NB:B minutes by patient demographics and clinical factors were calculated using descriptive statistics and multivariate modeling.
Results: Ninety-five patients were included [solid tumors (42, 44%), brain tumors (33, 35%), and leukemia/lymphoma (20, 21%)]. PPO completed billable visits on 52 of 95 (55%) patients and assisted without billing in the care of 43 patients (45%). Twenty-four (25%) patients were deceased. Overall NB:B ratio was 1.04 and differed among diagnoses (leukemia/lymphoma 2.5, solid tumor 0.9, and brain tumor 0.8). Deceased patients had a higher ratio of NB:B minutes than alive patients (1.9 vs. 0.8, p = 0.012). Billable and nonbillable minutes both increased over time.
Conclusions: Care coordination in a PPO clinic is time intensive and grows with clinic volume. When devising a PPO outpatient program, this NB:B ratio should be accounted for in clinician time and personnel devoted to patient and family assistance.
Context: Limited access to opioids for cancer patients has been reported as a potential unintended consequence of recent regulations restricting opioid use and prescribing practices. To our knowledge, there are a limited number of peer-reviewed studies that evaluate cancer patients’ perceived difficulties when filling their opioid prescription. To understand these difficulties, we surveyed patients receiving opioids in our outpatient Supportive Care Center (SCC).
Objectives: The primary objective of this study was to evaluate cancer patients’ perceptions of overall difficulties when filling their opioid prescription. Secondary objectives included determining associations between patient characteristics and difficulty, and comparing difficulty between filling opioid and non-opioid prescriptions.
Methods: Cancer patients receiving opioids that had been seen two times or more at our SCC were asked to complete a survey. The information collected included patient demographics, clinical characteristics, and patients’ experiences filling their opioid prescription.
Results: The patients’ median age was 60 years; 54% were female and 69% were white. Forty-four patients (32%) reported that they have experienced difficulty filling their opioid prescription. More than 25% of those 44 patients perceived difficulty from interactions with the pharmacy/pharmacist. Forty-six patients (33%) reported more difficulty filling their opioid prescriptions than filling their non-opioid prescriptions.
Conclusions: This study provides evidence that patients with cancer visiting our SCC perceived difficulties obtaining their opioid prescriptions. The results suggest that negative interactions with the pharmacy/pharmacist contributes to their perceived difficulty. Additional research is needed to further characterize the contributors of the difficulties cancer patients face in filling their opioid prescriptions.
BACKGROUND: General practitioners (GPs) are important providers and coordinators of palliative home care (PHC). Through this double role, their perspectives and their treatment decisions influence PHC fundamentally. This study aims to gain deeper insights into GPs' perspectives regarding PHC in North Rhine, Germany.
METHODS: An explorative, semistructured focus group was conducted with 7 doctors. The researchers performed content analysis. Main topics were GPs' role definition in PHC and GPs' medical activities in PHC.
RESULTS: Participating GPs describe their role in PHC, based on high motivation and positive attitudes toward PHC as a hybrid role: coordinator, provider (mostly in general PHC), and referrer (gateway to palliative care [PC] specialists). According to GPs' medical activity, participants describe moderate expertise, demanding tasks, and elaborate PHC provision for GPs. Participants stressed the importance of PC in GPs' work. But also PC is a small field in general practice. GPs' PHC benefits from the deep trust resulting from the often close and long-term GP-patient relationship. Complexity and bureaucracy of PHC structures as well as the lack of resources and multidisciplinary cooperation are named as barriers for providing PHC. The highest level of care is reached in specialized PHC, which only very few, severely impaired patients need.
CONCLUSIONS: Participating GPs see themselves as important PHC providers as well as referrers and coordinators. Complexity and discontinuity in PC arrangements create challenges for their provision. Therefore, they long for reduced bureaucratic burdens.
Outpatient palliative care (PC) improved quality of life and symptoms among patients with Parkinson disease and related disorders in a trial in JAMA Neurology.
The study’s 210 patients and 175 caregivers were randomly assigned to outpatient integrative PC or to standard care. Every 3 months for a year, participants received PC visits either in person or via telemedicine from a neurologist, social worker, chaplain, and nurse with guidance from a palliative medicine specialist. Standard care was provided by a neurologist and a primary care clinician.
Objective: Women with advanced gynecologic cancer and malignant bowel obstruction (MBO) undergo repeated hospitalizations, experience feelings of isolation and abandonment, and often die in acute settings. Innovative outpatient models of care are needed to address the unmet needs of this population at the end-of-life. We implemented a novel supported self-management (SMS) program focused on increasing patients' skill and confidence in managing MBO proactively in the ambulatory setting.
Methods: We performed a qualitative descriptive study embedded in a prospective single-arm evaluative trial (Clinicaltrials.gov ID: NCT03260647) to understand the impact of this program on patients' sense of support, degree of distress, quality of care, and capacity to self-manage. Semi-structured interviews were completed and analysed using the Chronic Care Model as a theoretical framework. Data saturation was confirmed after 15 interviews.
Results: Fifteen patients (age range: 47–82) with diagnoses of advanced ovarian, endometrial, and cervical cancer were interviewed; 10 had died by end of follow-up, with a median interval from interview to death of 5 months. Patients were able to self-manage the: (i) medical aspects; (ii) psychological consequences, and (iii) changes in life roles and expectations resulting from their condition. Patients felt greatly supported, less isolated, and secure in their knowledge and ability to access care due to SMS. While patients understood their disease was not curative they did not fully appreciate that MBO signalled a significantly poorer prognosis.
Conclusion: Outpatient SMS interventions can be successfully implemented even for rapidly fatal conditions at the end-of-life and offer significant benefit to gynecologic cancer patients with MBO. Counselling should focus on the specific trajectory of MBO, and early palliative care referrals should be standard practice.