Background: Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) reduce the incidence of sudden cardiac death for high-risk patients with heart failure (HF), but shocks from these devices can also cause pain and anxiety at the end of life. Although professional society recommendations encourage proactive discussions about ICD deactivation, clinicians lack training in conducting these conversations, and they occur infrequently.
Methods: As part of a six-center randomized controlled trial, we evaluated the educational component of a multicomponent intervention shown to increase conversations about ICD deactivation by clinicians who care for a subset of patients with advanced HF. This consisted of a 90-minute training workshop designed to improve the quality and frequency of conversations about ICD management. To characterize its utility as an isolated intervention, we compared HF clinicians' pre- and postworkshop scores (on a 5-point Likert scale) assessing self-reported confidence and skills in specific practices of advance care planning, ICD deactivation discussions, and empathic communication.
Results: Forty intervention-group HF clinicians completed both pre- and postworkshop surveys. Preworkshop scores showed high baseline levels of confidence (4.36, standard deviation [SD = 0.70) and skill (4.08, SD = 0.72), whereas comparisons of pre- and postworkshop scores showed nonsignificant decreases in confidence (-1.16, p = 0.252) and skill (-0.20, p = 0.843) after the training session.
Conclusions: Our findings showed no significant changes in self-assessment ratings immediately after the educational intervention. However, our data did demonstrate that HF clinicians had high baseline self-perceptions of their skills in advance care planning conversations and appear to be well-primed for further professional development to improve communication in the setting of advanced HF.
Objectives: Hospice use reduces costly aggressive end-of-life (EOL) care (eg, repeated hospitalizations, intensive care unit care, and emergency department visits). Nevertheless, associations between hospice stays and EOL expenditures in prior research have been inconsistent. We examined the differential associations between hospice stay duration and EOL expenditures among newly diagnosed patients with cancer, congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and dementia.
Methods: In the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare data, we identified 240 246 decedents diagnosed with the aforementioned conditions during 2001 to 2013. We used zero-inflated negative binomial regression models to examine the differential associations between hospice length of services and EOL expenditures incurred during the last 90, 180, and 360 days of life.
Results: For the last 360 days of expenditures, hospice stays beyond 30 days were positively associated with expenditures for decedents with COPD, CHF, and dementia but were negatively associated for cancer decedents (all P<.001) after adjusting for demographic and medical covariates. In contrast, for the last 90 days of expenditures, hospice stay duration and expenditures were consistently negatively associated for each of the 4 patient disease groups.
Conclusions: Longer hospice stays were associated with lower 360-day expenditures for cancer patients but higher expenditures for other patients. We recommend that Medicare hospice payment reforms take distinct disease trajectories into account. The relationship between expenditures and hospice stay length also depended on the measurement duration, such that measuring expenditures for the last 6 months of life or less overstates the cost-saving benefit of lengthy hospice stays.
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: Palliative care supports quality of life, symptom control, and goal setting in heart failure (HF) patients. Unlike hospice, palliative care does not restrict life-prolonging therapy. This study examined the association between palliative care during hospitalization for HF on the subsequent transitions and procedures.
Methods and Results: Veterans admitted to hospitals with HF from 2010 to 2015 were randomly selected for the Veterans Administration External Peer Review Program. Variables pertaining to demographic, clinical, laboratory, and usage were captured from Veterans Administration electronic records. Patients receiving hospice services before admission were excluded. Patients who received palliative care were propensity matched to those who did not. The primary outcomes were whether the patient experienced transitions or procedures in the 6 months after admission. Transitions included multiple readmissions (=2) or intensive care admissions and procedures included mechanical ventilation, pacemaker implantation, or defibrillator implantation. Among 57 182 hospitalized HF patients, 1431 received palliative care, and were well matched to 1431 without (standardized mean differences = ±0.05 on all matched variables). Palliative care was associated with significantly fewer multiple rehospitalizations (30.9% versus 40.3%, P<0.001), mechanical ventilation (2.8% versus 5.4%, P=0.004), and defibrillator implantation (2.1% versus 3.6%, P=0.01). After adjustment for facility fixed effects, palliative care consultation was associated with a significantly reduced hazard of multiple readmissions (adjusted hazard ratio=0.73, 95% CI, 0.64–0.84) and mechanical ventilation (adjusted hazard ratio=0.76, 95% CI, 0.67–0.87).
Conclusions: palliative care during HF admissions was associated with fewer readmissions and less mechanical ventilation. When available, engagement of HF patients and caregivers in palliative care for symptom control, quality of life, and goals of care discussions may be associated with reduced rehospitalizations and mechanical ventilation.
Heart failure is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Standard treatment for heart failure includes pharmacotherapy and cardiac device implants. However, supportive approaches in managing dyspnea in heart failure are limited. This study aimed to test the efficacy of 20-minute mindful breathing in reducing dyspnea among patients admitted for acute decompensated heart failure. We conducted a parallel-group, non-blinded, randomized controlled trial of a single session of 20-minute mindful breathing plus standard care versus standard care alone among patients admitted for moderate to severe dyspnea due to acute decompensated heart failure, using the dyspnea score based on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS), at the Cardiology Unit of University Malaya Medical Centre in Malaysia. Thirty participants were randomly assigned to a single session of 20-minute mindful breathing plus standard care (n = 15) or standard care alone (n = 15), with no difference in their demographic and clinical characteristics. There was statistically significant reduction in dyspnea in the intervention group compared to the control group at minute 20 (U = 49.5, n1 = 15, n2 =15, median reduction in ESAS dyspnea score 1 = 2, median reduction in ESAS dyspnea score 2 = 0, mean rank 1 = 11.30, mean rank 2 = 19.70, z = -2.692, r = 0.4, P = 0.007). Our results provided evidence that a single session of 20-minute mindful breathing was efficacious in reducing dyspnea for patients admitted for acute decompensated heart failure.
Background: The importance of advance care planning (ACP) has been recognized in the palliative are of patients with heart failure. It is necessary for dissemination of ACP to characterize the perceptions
of physicians and nurses towards ACP and to promote mutual understanding. The aim of this study is to investigate the perceptions of physicians and nurses concerning ACP for patients with heart failure.
Methods: We conducted a self-administered questionnaire survey with physicians and nurses who belonged to the 427 certified institutions for implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and/or cardiac
resynchronization therapy (CRT) in Japan. The self-administered questionnaire was originally designed based on the guidelines on palliative care or ACP and previous studies on the barriers of ACP. We asked the participants the recognition about condition/timing to implement ACP, Content of care to be implemented in ACP, and barriers against implementing ACP. A Mann-Whitney U test was performed and r value was calculated an effect size (ES) in order to evaluate the characteristic perceptions among physicians and nurses.
Results: Valid responses were obtained from 163 physicians (38.2%) and 208 nurses (48.7%). Regarding the condition/timing, nurses tended to recognize that ACP should be implemented from earlier clinical
stages than physicians. Regarding the contents of ACP, both physicians and nurses placed emphasis in assessing the patient’s perception of disease progression. The biggest difference was found in the item
“Ask patient about what has been important in life so far”; 78.6% of physicians but 94.2% of nurses chose “it must/should be implemented” (Cohen’s r=0.31). Regarding the barriers, both physicians and nurses
recognized the difficulty in prognosis prediction. The biggest differences were found in the items “Medical staff does not know how to implement ACP for patients and their families” (45.6% of physicians and 70.4% of nurses chose “strongly agree/agree”, r=0.27), and “There is disagreement regarding care goals among team members of different professions” (18.5% in physicians and 43.3% in nurses, r=0.27).
Conclusions: It is suggested that discussions and further studies are necessary concerning the condition/timing of implementing ACP from early stages, specific manuals/protocols and recommendation on rolesharing within a multidisciplinary team.
Despite significant advances in heart failure (HF) treatment, HF remains a progressive, extremely symptomatic, and terminal disease with a median survival of 2.1 years after diagnosis. HF often leads to a constellation of symptoms, including dyspnea, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, pain, and worsened cognitive function. Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their caregivers facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness and therefore is well suited to support these patients. However, historically, palliative care has often focused on supporting patients with malignant disease, rather than a progressive chronic disease such as HF. Predicting mortality in patients with HF is challenging. The lack of obvious transition points in disease progression also raises challenges to primary care providers and specialists to know at what point to integrate palliative care during a patient's disease trajectory.
Although therapies for HF often result in functional and symptomatic improvements including health-related quality of life (HRQL), some patients with HF do not demonstrate these benefits, including those patients with a preserved ejection fraction. Provision of palliative care for patients with HF requires an understanding of HF pathogenesis and common medications used for these patients, as well as an approach to balancing life-prolonging and HRQL care strategies. This review describes HF and current targeted therapies and their effects on symptoms, hospital admission rates, exercise performance, HRQL, and survival. Pharmacological interactions with and precautions related to commonly used palliative care medications are reviewed. The goal of this review is to equip palliative care clinicians with information to make evidence-based decisions while managing the balance between optimal disease management and patient quality of life.
BACKGROUND: Use of hospice has grown among patients with heart failure; however, gaps remain in the ability of agencies to tailor services to meet their needs.
AIM: This study describes the implementation of a cardiac home hospice program and insights for dissemination to other hospice programs.
DESIGN: We conducted a multimethod analysis structured around the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework.
SETTINGS/PARTICIPANTS: We used electronic medical records for our quantitative data source and interviews with hospice clinicians from a not-for-profit hospice agency (N = 32) for our qualitative data source.
RESULTS: Reach-A total of 1273 participants were enrolled in the cardiac home hospice program, of which 57% were female and 42% were black or Hispanic with a mean age was 86 years. Effectiveness-The cardiac home hospice program increased hospice enrollment among patients with heart failure from 7.9% to 9.5% over 1 year (2016-2017). Adoption-Institutional factors that supported the program included the acute need to support medically complex patients at the end of life and an engaged clinical champion. Implementation-Program implementation was supported by interdisciplinary teams who engaged in care coordination. Maintenance-The program has been maintained for over 3 years.
CONCLUSION: The cardiac home hospice program strengthened hospice clinicians' ability to confidently provide care for patients with heart failure, expanded awareness of their symptoms among clinicians, and was associated with increased enrollment of patients with heart failure over the study period. This RE-AIM evaluation provides lessons learned and strategies for future adoption, implementation, and maintenance of a cardiac home hospice program.
Heart failure (HF), a clinical syndrome with variable trajectory has become more common. As people with HF experience functional decline during periods of deterioration in their HF status, or with aging, their needs for palliative care increase. This review considers the palliative aspects of evidence-based HF care, which benefit patients while also addressing the underlying etiology of the HF. We also identify symptoms common to patients with HF and management beyond evidence-based HF care. Prognostic models and tools to identify patients appropriately evaluated by HF specialty experts might help clinicians understand the patient's status. Rather than trying to identify a point at which palliative care should be included in care for a patient with HF, we suggest that identifying specific needs of the patient and family is a better way to target palliative care interventions. We review available publications that have explored integration of palliative care into HF care, and propose an outpatient clinic model that assesses needs and symptoms and directs HF specialist or palliative care based on this assessment.
BACKGROUND: Despite a majority of persons receiving hospice care in their homes, there are gaps in understanding how to facilitate goals of care conversations between persons with heart failure and healthcare providers.
AIM: To identify barriers and facilitators which shape goals of care conversations for persons with heart failure in the context of home hospice.
DESIGN: A qualitative descriptive study design was used with semi-structured interviews.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: We conducted qualitative interviews with persons with heart failure, family caregivers, and interprofessional healthcare team members at a large not-for-profit hospice agency in New York City between March 2018 and February 2019.
RESULTS: A total of 39 qualitative interviews were conducted, including with healthcare team members (e.g. nurses, physicians, social workers, spiritual counselors), persons with heart failure, and family caregivers. Three themes emerged from the qualitative interviews regarding facilitators and barriers in goals of care conversations for better decision-making: (1) trust is key to building and maintaining goals of care conversations; (2) lack of understanding and acceptance of hospice inhibits goals of care conversations; and (3) family support and engagement promote goals of care conversations.
CONCLUSION: Findings from this study suggest that interventions designed to improve goals of care conversations in the home hospice setting should focus on promoting understanding and acceptance of hospice, family support and engagement, and building trusting relationships with interprofessional healthcare teams.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care can improve outcomes for patients with advanced chronic heart failure and their families, but timely recognition of palliative care needs remains challenging.
AIM: The aim of this study was to identify characteristics of a tool to assess palliative care needs in chronic heart failure that are needed for successful implementation, according to patients, their family and healthcare professionals in The Netherlands.
METHODS: Explorative qualitative study, part of the project 'Identification of patients with HeARt failure with PC needs' (I-HARP), focus groups and individual interviews were held with healthcare professionals, patients with chronic heart failure, and family members. Data were analysed using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research.
RESULTS: A total of 13 patients, 10 family members and 26 healthcare professionals participated. Direct-content analysis revealed desired tool characteristics for successful implementation in four constructs: relative advantage, adaptability, complexity, and design quality and packaging. Healthcare professionals indicated that a tool should increase awareness, understanding and knowledge concerning palliative care needs. A tool needs to: be adaptable to different disease stages, facilitate early identification of palliative care needs and ease open conversations about palliative care. The complexity of chronic heart failure should be considered in a personalized approach.
CONCLUSIONS: The current study revealed the characteristics of a tool for timely identification of palliative care needs in chronic heart failure needed for successful implementation. The next steps will be to define the content of the tool, followed by development of a preliminary version and iterative testing of this version by the different stakeholders.
AIM: The aim of this study was to evaluate the suitability and comprehensibility of the integrated palliative care outcome scale for the evaluation of palliative care needs in patients with heart failure.
METHODS AND RESULTS: This cross-sectional study investigated 100 heart failure patients (40 women, 60 men; median age 79 years) within the first few days of their hospitalisation by applying the integrated palliative care outcome scale (3-day recall period) and two additional self-developed questions about the suitability and comprehensibility of the integrated palliative care outcome scale. Clinically relevant somatic and psycho-emotional symptoms were reported very frequently (approximately 75% each), followed by communicational needs or practical issues. Ninety-five per cent of patients thought the integrated palliative care outcome scale very easy to understand, and 91% judged the integrated palliative care outcome scale suitable to assess palliative care needs.
CONCLUSION: The integrated palliative care outcome scale was well accepted by hospitalised patients with heart failure and identified a high burden of both physical and psycho-emotional symptoms. Screening for palliative care has to consider patients and their relatives alike, and should be part of a comprehensive care concept jointly integrated into clinical routine by primary and specialised palliative care teams.
Background: Most patients with advanced heart failure are ill-prepared and poorly supported during the end of life. To date, research has focused primarily on generalized patient accounts of the management or self-care phase of the syndrome. Little research has examined the end of life in depth or from the perspectives of family members.
Aims: The purpose of this study is to describe how people diagnosed with heart failure and their family members describe uncertainty related to impending death.
Methods and results: A narrative inquiry was undertaken using a social constructionist perspective. Twenty participants took part in over 60 interviews: 12 participants with heart failure (eight male and four female; mean = 67.3 years) and eight family members (mean = 61.6 years) engaged in two in-depth interviews, approximately 3–4 months apart, followed by a telephone follow-up 2–3 months later. Six key themes/storylines were identified. These included: prognosis messages received from physicians; whenever I die, I die; loss isn’t new to me but … ; carrying on amidst the fragility of life; ultimately living not knowing; and the need to prepare.
Conclusion: the six key storylines of death and dying with advanced heart failure were consistent for both patients and family members. There was a desire for better communication with physicians. Many participants were critical of how the prognosis of advanced heart failure was communicated to them, even if they anticipated the news. Participants wanted frank, open conversations with their healthcare providers that both acknowledged that they were at end of life but did not remove all hope.
BACKGROUND: Developing recommendations for how we deliver healthcare is often left to leading experts in a field. Findings from the Integrated Palliative Care in cancer and chronic conditions (InSup-C) study, which aimed to identify best practice in integrated palliative care in cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure, led to recommendations developed through an expert consultation process. We also wanted to develop these recommendations further with participants who were largely clinicians and members of the public.
METHODS: Results from the InSup-C study were disseminated through a three-week massive open online course (MOOC) which ran in 2016, 2017 and 2019. The first course helped develop the final recommendations, which were ranked by MOOC participants in the subsequent courses. MOOC participants were predominantly clinicians, but also academics and members of the public. They rated how important each recommendation was on a 9 point scale (9 most important). Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the ratings. The results were compared to findings from the consultation.
RESULTS: Five hundred fifteen completed the last part of the course where the recommendations were ranked, of which 195 (38%) completed the ratings. The top recommendations related to: need to expand palliative care to non-malignant conditions; palliative care needs to include different dimensions of care including physical, psychological and spiritual; policies and regulations assessments should be made regularly; palliative care integration should be mandatory; and there should be greater availability of medicines. These differed compared to the top ranked recommendations by the consultation panel in relation to the importance of leadership and policy making. This may indicate that clinicians are more focused on daily care rather than the (inter) national agenda.
CONCLUSIONS: Whilst both sets of recommendations are important, our study shows that we need to include the views of clinicians and the public rather than rely upon leading expert opinion alone. To keep recommendations fresh we need both the input of clinicians, the public and experts. When disseminating findings, MOOCs offer a useful way to gain greater reach with clinicians and the public, and importantly could be a vehicle to validate recommendations made by leading expert panels.
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.
Background: Heart failure (HF) impacts 6.2 million American adults. With no cure, therapies aim to prevent progression and manage symptoms. Inclusion of palliative care (PC) helps improve symptoms and quality of life. Heart failure guidelines recommend the inclusion of PC in HF therapy, but referrals are often delayed.
Objective: Introduce PC to patients with HF and examine the impact on PC consults, readmission, mortality, and intensive care unit (ICU) transfers.
Methods: Patients (n = 60) admitted with HF to an academic hospital were asked to view a PC educational module. A number of PC consults, re-admissions, mortality, and transfers to the ICU were compared among participants and those who declined.
Results: Nine patients in the intervention group (n = 30) requested a PC consult ( P = .042) versus 2 in the usual care group (n = 30; P = .302). There was no statistically significant difference in readmissions, mortality, or ICU transfers between groups.
Conclusions: Palliative care education increases the likelihood of PC utilization but in this short-term project was not found to statistically impact mortality, re-admissions, or transfers to higher levels of care.
Background: End-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic heart failure (CHF) and chronic renal failure (CRF) are characterized by a high burden of daily symptoms that, irrespective of the primary organ failure, are widely shared.
Aims: To evaluate whether and to which extent symptom-based clusters of patients with end-stage COPD, CHF and CRF associate with patients’ health status, mobility, care dependency and life-sustaining treatment preferences.
Methods: 255 outpatients with a diagnosis of advanced COPD (n = 95), advanced CHF (n = 80) or CRF requiring dialysis (n = 80) were visited in their home environment and underwent a multidimensional assessment: clinical characteristics, symptom burden using Visual Analog Scale (VAS), health status questionnaires, timed “Up and Go” test, Care Dependency Scale and willingness to undergo mechanical ventilation or cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Three clusters were obtained applying K-means cluster analysis on symptoms’ severity assessed via VAS. Cluster characteristics were compared using non-parametric tests.
Results: Cluster 1 patients, with the least symptom burden, had a better quality of life, lower care dependency and were more willing to accept life-sustaining treatments than others. Cluster 2, with a high presence and severity of dyspnea, fatigue, cough, muscle weakness and mood problems, and Cluster 3, with the highest occurrence and severity of symptoms, reported similar care dependency and life-sustaining treatment preferences, while Cluster 3 reported the worst physical health status.
Discussion: Symptom-based clusters identify patients with different health needs and might help to develop palliative care programs.
Conclusion: Clustering by symptoms identifies patients with different health status, care dependency and life-sustaining treatment preferences.
Background: Palliative care improves quality of life in patients with heart failure. Whether men and women with heart failure derive similar benefit from palliative care interventions remains unknown.
Methods: In a secondary analysis of the PAL-HF trial (Palliative Care in Heart Failure), we analyzed differences in quality of life among men and women with heart failure and assessed for differential effects of the palliative care intervention by sex. Differences in clinical characteristics and quality-of-life metrics were compared between men and women at serial time points. The primary outcome was change in Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire score between baseline and 24 weeks.
Results: Among the 71 women and 79 men, there was a significant difference in baseline Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (24.5 versus 36.2, respectively; P=0.04) but not Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Palliative Care scale (115.7 versus 120.3; P=0.27) scores. Among those who received the palliative care intervention (33 women and 42 men), women’s quality-of-life score remained lower than that of men after enrollment. Treated men’s scores were significantly higher than those untreated (6-month Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire, 68.0 [interquartile range, 52.6–85.7] versus 41.1[interquartile range, 32.0–78.3]; P=0.047), whereas the difference between treated and untreated women was not significantly different (P=0.39). Rates of death and rehospitalization, as well as the composite end point, were similar between treated and untreated women and men.
Conclusions: In the PAL-HF trial, women with heart failure experienced a greater symptom burden and poorer quality of life as compared with men. The change in treated men’s Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire score between baseline and 24 weeks was significantly higher than those untreated; this trend was not observed in women. Thus, there may be a sex disparity in response to palliative care intervention, suggesting that sex-specific approaches to palliative care may be needed to improve outcomes.
INTRODUCTION: Advance care planning (ACP) discussions help guide future medical care consistent with patient wishes. These discussions should be a part of routine care and should be readdressed frequently as a patient's medical condition changes. Limited literature exists supporting structured processes for identifying persons who may benefit from these conversations. The purpose of this integrative review was to understand whether targeting patients with episodic disease trajectories in the acute care setting will increase their willingness to participate in ACP discussions.
METHODS: Using the Johns Hopkins Nursing Evidence-Based Practice Model as a guideline, this integrative review focused on the research query "In the acute care setting, does targeting patients with heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for ACP lead to increased willingness to participate in these discussions." Articles from 2009 to September 2019 were considered for review.
RESULTS: Six articles met inclusion criteria for final analysis. Articles outside of the United States were excluded. Four themes emerged from the literature: (1) improved patient attitudes toward ACP, (2) effective communication surrounding care preferences, (3) strengthened connection between preferred and delivered care, and (4) increased patient involvement in ACP.
CONCLUSION: Chronic diseases such as heart failure and COPD have a high symptom burden punctuated by exacerbations, making it difficult to know when introduction of ACP discussions would be most beneficial. Future research should focus on a deeper evaluation of when to introduce ACP conversations in this population and which ACP interventions are effective to facilitate these discussions.
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.