Patients with cancer have an increased risk of developing severe forms of coronavirus disease 2019, and patients with advanced cancer who are followed at home represent a particularly frail population. Although with substantial differences, the challenges that cancer care professionals have to face during a pandemic are quite similar to those posed by natural disasters. We have already managed the oncological home care service in L’Aquila (middle Italy) after the 2009 earthquake. With this letter, we want to share the procedures and tools that we have started using at the home care service of the Tuscany Tumor Association during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Purpose: To determine the use of avoidable medications in end-of-life patients living at home when they were moved from the general practice setting to the palliative medicine physician (T1) and before death (T2).
Methods: This retrospective longitudinal study describes the prevalence of end-of-life patients cared for at home between April 2016 and December 2018 receiving preventive and symptomatic drug treatments. Socio-demographic data, diagnosis and drug treatments for each patient were collected in a web-based Case Report Form.
Results: The study sample comprised 1565 end-of-life patients with a median age (25–75 percentile) of 79.8 (72.5–85.3 years). All patients were treated with symptomatic drugs, and there were significantly fewer patients from T1 to T2 with at least one preventive medication at end of life (92.1% and, 60.8%, p < 0.0001). There was a significant variability between the palliative care physicians in the mean numbers of avoidable preventive medication (1.5–3.9 at T1 and 0.4–2.7 at T2, p = 0.06) prescribed.
Conclusion: More than half end-of-life patients living at home still receive avoidable medications. Drug prescription needs to be improved and palliative care setting could have an important role in reducing potentially inappropriate prescriptions. Emphasizing the positive aspects of stopping medicines, shared criteria with de-prescribing guidelines for potentially inappropriate medication in end-of-life patients and multidisciplinary discussion with involvement of patient and family caregivers could be useful to rationalize drug therapy.
Background/objectives: Opioids relieve symptoms in terminal care. We studied opioid underuse in long-term care facilities, defined as residents without opioid prescription despite pain and/or dyspnoea, 3 days prior to death.
Design and setting: In a proportionally stratified randomly selected sample of long-term care facilities in six European Union countries, nurses and long-term care facility management completed structured after-death questionnaires within 3 months of residents’ death.
Measurements: Nurses assessed pain/dyspnoea with Comfort Assessment in Dying with Dementia scale and checked opioid prescription by chart review. We estimated opioid underuse per country and per symptom and calculated associations of opioid underuse by multilevel, multivariable analysis.
Results: nurses’ response rate was 81.6%, 95.7% for managers. Of 901 deceased residents with pain/dyspnoea reported in the last week, 10.6% had dyspnoea, 34.4% had pain and 55.0% had both symptoms. Opioid underuse per country was 19.2% (95% confidence interval: 12.9–27.2) in the Netherlands, 25.2% (18.3–33.6) in Belgium, 29.3% (16.9–45.8) in England, 33.7% (26.2–42.2) in Finland, 64.6% (52.0–75.4) in Italy and 79.1% (71.2–85.3) in Poland (p < 0.001). Opioid underuse was 57.2% (33.0–78.4) for dyspnoea, 41.2% (95% confidence interval: 21.9–63.8) for pain and 37.4% (19.4–59.6) for both symptoms (p = 0.013). Odds of opioid underuse were lower (odds ratio: 0.33; 95% confidence interval: 0.20–0.54) when pain was assessed.
Conclusion: Opioid underuse differs between countries. Pain and dyspnoea should be formally assessed at the end-of-life and taken into account in physicians orders.
BACKGROUND: Nutrition is a basic patients' need and an important component of nursing. End-of-life cancer patients can experience difficulties in eating and drinking, sometimes requiring artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH). Nurses' knowledge and attitudes greatly influence nursing care. Nurses may lack knowledge of ANH. To date, no study has explored the knowledge and attitudes of oncology and palliative care nurses toward end-of-life ANH.
OBJECTIVE: To describe oncology and palliative care nurses' knowledge of and attitudes toward ANH.
METHODS: A multicenter cross-sectional study was conducted in 7 regions of Italy using the Italian version of the Questionnaire on Knowledge and Attitudes in Providing ANH for Terminal Cancer Patients. Attitudes were divided into benefits and burdens of providing ANH. Data were analyzed by descriptive statistics.
RESULTS: High percentages of oncology and palliative care nurses showed reasonable knowledge about ANH. More disagreement was evidenced about benefits and burdens of ANH, and lower importance was given to them.
CONCLUSIONS: Some misconceptions and a low level of awareness exist among some nurses about ANH. More nursing studies should be conducted and extended to different care settings. Moreover, guidelines should be reinforced with a nursing perspective to better define nurses' role in the decision-making process on ANH.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: This exploration of nurses' knowledge of and attitudes toward ANH in end-of-life cancer patients can contribute to an understanding of how nurses can be involved in better meeting cancer patients' nutritional needs at the end of life.
Objectives: We aimed to investigate the occurrence rates of clinical events and their associations with comfort in dying nursing home residents with and without dementia.
Methods: Epidemiological after-death survey was performed in nationwide representative samples of 322 nursing homes in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and England. Nursing staff reported clinical events and assessed comfort. The nursing staff or physician assessed the presence of dementia; severity was determined using two highly discriminatory staff-reported instruments.
Results: The sample comprised 401 residents with advanced dementia, 377 with other stages of dementia, and 419 without dementia (N = 1197). Across the three groups, pneumonia occurred in 24 to 27% of residents. Febrile episodes (unrelated to pneumonia) occurred in 39% of residents with advanced dementia, 34% in residents with other stages of dementia and 28% in residents without dementia (P = .03). Intake problems occurred in 74% of residents with advanced dementia, 55% in residents with other stages of dementia, and 48% in residents without dementia (P < .001). Overall, these three clinical events were inversely associated with comfort. Less comfort was observed in all resident groups who had pneumonia (advanced dementia, P = .04; other stages of dementia, P = .04; without dementia, P < .001). Among residents with intake problems, less comfort was observed only in those with other stages of dementia (P < .001) and without dementia (P = .003), while the presence and severity of dementia moderated this association (P = .03). Developing “other clinical events” was not associated with comfort.
Conclusions: Discomfort was observed in dying residents who developed major clinical events, especially pneumonia, which was not specific to advanced dementia. It is crucial to identify and address the clinical events potentially associated with discomfort in dying residents with and without dementia.
Palliative care practice is associated with risk factors linked to end-of-life, chronicity, personal, interpersonal, and work characteristics, as well as with protective factors, but how these are perceived by the health care providers themselves is not clear. This article aims to elaborate a theoretical framework explaining the risk and protective factors for palliative care providers in their daily practice. Nineteen providers (16 nurses, 3 physicians) working in a palliative care unit of a clinical-research institute in Northern Italy were interviewed. A Grounded Theory qualitative approach guided the data collection and analysis. From the interviews, 28 codes, subsequently organized into 11 interconnected categories, emerged. They described both stressors (emotion management regarding death/dying, conflicts, communication and relationship with patients/caregivers, discrepancies between patients' and caregivers' needs, communication of poor diagnosis/prognosis, decision making about treatment, and real-life and work interference) and protective factors (social support, positive approach and value of past experience, recognized value of/passion toward professional work, work-family balance). Experiencing these elements as positive or negative depends on the professionals' point of view, as well as their past and present experience.
Understanding what dealing with life-limiting illnesses means may suggest tailored interventions to improve professionals' well-being by fostering the protective elements and combatting the risk factors.
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: Hospice workers are required to regularly use emotional regulation strategies in an attempt to encourage and sustain terminally ill patients and families. Daily emotional regulation in reaction to constantly watching suffering patients may be intensified among those hospice professionals who have high levels of compassion fatigue. The main object of this study was to examine the relationship between daily exposition to seeing patient suffering and daily emotional work, and to assess whether compassion fatigue (secondary traumatic stress and burnout) buffers this relationship.
METHODS: We used a diary research design for collecting daily fluctuations in seeing patients suffering and emotional work display. Participants filled in a general survey and daily survey over a period of eight consecutive workdays. A total of 39 hospice professionals from two Italian hospices participated in the study.
RESULTS: Multilevel analyses demonstrated that daily fluctuations in seeing patients suffering was positively related to daily emotional work display after controlling for daily death of patients. Moreover, considering previous levels of compassion fatigue, a buffering effect of high burnout on seeing patients suffering - daily emotional work display relationship was found.
CONCLUSIONS: A central finding of our study is that fluctuations in daily witness of patients suffering are positively related to daily use of positive emotional regulations. Further, our results show that burnout buffers this relationship such that hospice professionals with high burnout use more emotional display in days where they recurrently witness patients suffering.
Background and aims: The prevalence of malnutrition is over 70% in advanced cancer patients and impacts negatively on survival and quality of life. Artificial nutrition can be integrated into a home palliative care program. This observational study aims to describe the criteria for identifying the cancer patients that could benefit from home artificial nutrition (HAN) and to evaluate its impact on survival and performance status.
Methods: The selection criteria for patient's eligibility to HAN were: Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) =40, life expectancy =6 weeks, inadequate caloric intake ± malnutrition, suitable psycho-physical conditions and informed consent. The access route for nutritional therapy (home parenteral nutrition, HPN; home enteral nutrition, HEN) was chosen according to the ESPEN Guidelines. The parameters considered were: primary site of the tumor; oral food intake; nutritional status; stage of cachexia; fluid, energy and protein supplied by HAN; survival.
Results: From 1990 to 2019, 43,474 cancer patients were assisted at home in Bologna (Italy). HAN started in 969 patients (2.2% of total patients, 571 men and 398 women, mean age 65.7 ± 12.7 years): HPN in 629 patients (64.9%), with gastrointestinal obstruction as the main indication; HEN in 340 patients (35.1%), with dysphagia as the main indication. Considering the 890 deceased patients, the mean survival after the start of HAN was 18.3 weeks and 649 patients (72.9%) survived more than 6 weeks. The mean survival was higher in HEN (22.1 weeks) compared to HPN patients (16.1 weeks) (p < .001). After one month, KPS was unchanged in 649 (67.0%), increased in 232 (23.9%) and decreased in 88 patients (9.1%). The mean KPS increased in patients starting HAN in pre-cachexia and cachexia (p < .001). Cachexia and refractory cachexia at the entry were associated with a reduced survival [odds ratio: 1.5 and 2.3 respectively, p < .001 for both condition] respect to pre-cachexia.
Conclusions: The selection criteria allow the identification of the patient who can take advantage of HAN. HAN can be effective in avoiding death from malnutrition in 73% of patients, and in maintaining or improving the KPS at one month in 90% of cases. The benefits provided by HAN on survival and performance status depend on the cachexia degree at the entry.
Background: Advanced cancer patients often die in hospital after receiving needless, aggressive treatment. Although palliative care improves symptom management, barriers to accessing palliative care services affect its utilisation, and such disparities challenge the equitable provision of palliative care. This study aimed to identify which factors are associated with inequitable palliative care service utilisation among advanced cancer patients by applying the Andersen Behavioural Model of Health Services Use.
Material and methods: This was a retrospective cohort study using administrative healthcare data. A total of 13,656 patients residing in the Lazio region of Italy, who died of an advanced cancer-related cause—either in hospital or in a specialised palliative care facility—during the period of 2012–2016 were included in the study. Potential predictors of specialised palliative service utilisation were explored by grouping the following factors: predisposing factors (i.e., individuals’ characteristics), enabling factors (i.e., systemic/structural factors) and need factors (i.e., type/severity of illness).
Results: The logistic hierarchical regression showed that older patients (odds ratio [OR] = 1.45; <0.0001) of Caucasian ethnicity (OR = 4.17; 0.02), with a solid tumour (OR = 1.87; <0.0001) and with a longer survival time (OR = 2.09; <0.0001) were more likely to be enrolled in a palliative care service. Patients who lived farther from a specialised palliative care facility (OR = 0.13; <0.0001) and in an urban area (OR = 0.58; <0.0001) were less likely to be enrolled.
Conclusion: This study found that socio-demographic (age, ethnicity), clinical (type of tumour, survival time) and organisational (area of residence, distance from service) factors affect the utilisation of specialised palliative care services. The fact that service utilisation is not only a function of patients’ needs but also of other aspects demonstrates the presence of inequity in access to palliative care among advanced cancer patients.
BACKGROUND: The definition of the eligibility criteria of newborn, infant, child, or adolescent patients for palliative care (PC) is complicated by the fact that these patients generally present with very specific case histories that make it inadvisable to directly adopt existing PC protocols devised for adult patients. Thus, the goal of this paper is to define a standard set of criteria for establishing pediatric palliative care (PPC) eligibility.
METHODS: The method adopted was that of the consensus conference. According to the guidelines issued by the Higher Institute of Health, the Board of the Italian Society for Palliative Care (i.e. steering committee) appointed a multidisciplinary group of eight health care professionals (i.e. doctors, nurses and psychologists) who worked from May 2014 to February 2016 to reach a consensus over PPC eligibility. This panel of relevant experts redacted a report summarizing all available scientific information concerning PPC, which was then submitted to the attention of a multidisciplinary jury composed of specialists and non-specialists of the field. The document thus produced was subsequently reviewed by an extended team of experts.
RESULTS: The consensus conference drafted a final document determining the guidelines for PPC eligibility of newborns, infants, children, and adolescents suffering from either oncological or non-oncological diseases.
CONCLUSIONS: This report provides health care providers with practical guidelines on how to define the eligibility of pediatric patients for PPC. Given the current situation in Italy, these guidelines will be instrumental in assisting the implementation of adequate generalist and specialist PPC services as well as in helping policymakers draft and implement national legislation pertaining to PPC.
Par une décision très attendue, la Cour constitutionnelle italienne a dépénalisé l’assistance au suicide dans certaines hypothèses et sous certaines conditions bien déterminées. Elle s’est prononcée en ce sens après avoir, par une précédente décision, imparti un délai au législateur pour qu’il adopte une loi en matière de fin de vie. Considérant l’inertie de ce dernier, la Cour fait preuve d’équilibrisme dans sa seconde décision, oscillant entre garantie des droits fondamentaux et respect du pouvoir discrétionnaire du Parlement. Par ces deux décisions, les juges constitutionnels italiens ont ainsi mis en place une technique inédite pour parvenir, en deux étapes, aux mêmes effets qu’une déclaration d’inconstitutionnalité à effet différé, afin de ne pas laisser des droits fondamentaux dépourvus de garantie en raison de l’inaction du législateur.
Objectives: Decision-making on artificial nutrition and hydration for patients terminally ill with cancer can be influenced by nurses' knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions. A comprehensive 57-item questionnaire including six sections on the knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions in providing artificial nutrition and hydration to patients terminally ill with cancer has been developed and used in Taiwan. However, the questionnaire needs further psychometric testing and adaptation for other cultures. This study aimed to cross-culturally adapt the questionnaire within the Italian cultural context and test its psychometric properties.
Methods: The questionnaire was translated into Italian and cross-culturally adapted per the recommendations by Beaton. A panel of 10 experts assessed content validity. A multicenter cross-sectional study was conducted with 411 nurses to test its psychometric properties. Dimensionality and construct validity were assessed through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. Reliability was estimated by composite and traditional methods, such as the Kuder Richardson formula-20 and Cronbach's a coefficients.
Results: The overall content validity index was 0.85. A confirmatory factor analysis was conducted for the knowledge section and the four attitudes sections. A preliminary analysis for the behavioral intentions section yielded non acceptable results. The internal consistency of the scales was adequate (range, 0.64-0.93).
Conclusions: This study constituted a notable advancement in the psychometric testing of the tool, and provides evidence that the Italian version of the questionnaire has acceptable psychometric characteristics for the sections on knowledge and attitudes.
Background: In spite of a rapidly ageing population, there is a lack of population-based data on mortality among nursing home residents in Southern Europe.
Aims: To assess mortality rates, their determinants, and causes of death in newly admitted nursing home residents in the Veneto region (northeastern Italy).
Methods: 19,392 subjects aged = 65 years admitted to regional nursing homes during 2015–2017 were recruited in a cohort mortality study based on linked health records. Risk factors for mortality were investigated by Cox regression. The distribution of causes of death was retrieved from death certificates.
Results: Mortality peaked in the first 4 months after admission; thereafter the monthly mortality rate fluctuated around 3% in males and 2% in females. Overall mortality was 23% at 6 months and 34% at 1 year. In addition to age, gender, and dependency, main risk factors for mortality were recent hospitalization (first 4 months after entry into the facility), and the burden of comorbidities (subsequent follow-up period). The most represented causes of mortality were similar in the first and in the subsequent period after admission: cardio-cerebrovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, respiratory diseases, and infections.
Discussion: The first months after admission represent a period at high risk of mortality, especially for patients with a recent hospitalization. Causes reported in death certificates suggest mainly an acute deterioration of pre-existing chronic conditions.
Conclusion: Health care plans should be personalized for newly admitted vulnerable patients. Palliative care needs should be recognized and addressed for high-risk non-cancer patients.
Background: Barriers to palliative care still exist in long-term care settings for older people, which can mean that people with advanced dementia may not receive of adequate palliative care in the last days of their life; instead, they may be exposed to aggressive and/or inappropriate treatments. The aim of this multicentre study was to assess the clinical interventions and care at end of life in a cohort of nursing home (NH) residents with advanced dementia in a large Italian region.
Methods: This retrospective study included a convenience sample of 29 NHs in the Lombardy Region. Data were collected from the clinical records of 482 residents with advanced dementia, who had resided in the NH for at least 6 months before death, mainly focusing on the 7 days before death.
Results: Most residents (97.1%) died in the NH. In the 7 days before death, 20% were fed and hydrated by mouth, and 13.4% were tube fed. A median of five, often inappropriate, drugs were prescribed. Fifty-seven percent of residents had an acknowledgement of worsening condition recorded in their clinical records, a median of 4 days before death.
Conclusions: Full implementation of palliative care was not achieved in our study, possibly due to insufficient acknowledgement of the appropriateness of some drugs and interventions, and health professionals’ lack of implementation of palliative interventions. Future studies should focus on how to improve care for NH residents.
Living in a hospice department is an intense experience for patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. End-of-life care aims to conduct vulnerable dying patients towards a painless and peaceful death. The importance of a strong staff-patient relationship and the perspective of pain and suffering from patients has already been studied. This study aimed to explore patients' inner needs living in hospice through a qualitative research approach. A descriptive qualitative study was conducted in the hospice department at ARNAS Civico in Palermo, Italy. From a qualitative research point of view, a significant sample of ten dying patients was interviewed. Data were collected until saturation by in-depth interview using a semi-structured interview guide, and Colaizzi's method was used. Five themes emerged: experiencing hospice, hospice staff, family role, coping with the disease, and death. Human relationships seem to represent a fundamental key in patients' end-of-life, especially in their family fondness. Predictably, terminally ill patients seem to fear pain and incoming death. Even though patients had everything they needed in the hospice, their main thoughts were always focused on human relationships. End-of-life medicine should improve the quality of time that each patient could spend with significant others to improve end-of-life care.
Aim: To investigate the association between a hospital palliative care unit assessment and hospital outcome.
Methods: This was a prospective cohort study. Data were assessed from all patients treated and followed by the hospital palliative care team (HPCT) from November 2016 until December 2017.
Results: The mean age of the 588 patients was 73.15±13.6 years. All of the patients included in the study were referred to palliative care. A large proportion of patients were affected by cancer, 69.7% (410), while 30.3% (178) were affected by an advanced chronic illness. The three most frequent cancers were: gastrointestinal (n=81, 19.8%), gynaecological (n=66, 16.1%) and lung (n=63, 15.4%); the three most frequent chronic advanced diseases were: advanced dementia (n=45, 25.3%), severe ischaemic/haemorrhagic stroke (n=36, 20.2%) and severe heart failure (n=25, 15.3%). The majority of patients were in clinical wards (n=476, 81.0%) and the average length of stay was 22.9 days. Hospital outcome trends were evaluated in terms of length of stay and number of deaths that occurred in the hospital. In particular, length of stay decreased from 25.8 days to 18.1 days, hospital death from 13 to 0 during the time that the HPCT assessed patients for an appropriate discharge.
Conclusion: The HPCT is an effective means of managing patients affected by severe illness, reducing the number of deaths that occur within the hospital, long periods of hospitalisation and instances of readmission. However, further studies are required to fully assess the impact of an HPCT on hospital outcomes.
CONTEXT: The aging of the world's population increasingly calls on older people to care for their cancer relatives. This scenario confronts clinicians involved with end-of-life care with an imposing challenge: elderly family caregivers could have a different perception of the burdens associated with assistance compared to their younger counterparts. Palliativists need to know what limits and resources of these new age categories of caregivers could be for a global management of dying patients with cancer and their family.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the caregiver burden in family caregivers supporting dying patients with cancer in order to compare the differences between 2 different caregivers age groups (younger vs elderly population).
METHODS: This is a cross-sectional study. A total of 174 family caregivers of hospice patients were interviewed through the Caregiver Burden Inventory (CBI). The sample group was divided into 2 subgroups aged <65 (younger group) and =65 years old (elderly group).
RESULTS: Compared with younger caregivers, the elderly group reported significantly higher scores in the CBI-developmental subscale (P = .009) confirmed by the generalized linear model (multivariate) evaluation that included possible predictors in the model. No further differences were found between the 2 age groups in the other CBI scores (time-dependent, physical, social, emotional, and overall score).
CONCLUSION: Elderly caregivers are at high risk for experiencing developmental burden. This finding could prompt mental health professionals to pay greater attention to the value that assistance to the family member can have on their personal story and on that of the family or couple.
Purpose: This study aims to investigate the impact of possible predictors of quality of life (QoL) in a group of Italian caregivers assisting a cancer patient in home palliative care.
Methods: Data from 570 adult informal caregivers and their cancer-affected relatives were collected. A multivariate regression analysis was conducted to assess the effect of three groups of variables on Caregivers Quality of Life Index-Cancer (CQOLC) scale: (a) socio-demographic characteristics of caregivers; (b) psychological characteristics of caregivers assessed by Profile Mood of States (POMS), Caregiver Burden Inventory (CBI), and Preparedness for Caregiving Scale (PCS); (c) Socio-demographic characteristics and functional status of the patients assessed by Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), Activities of Daily Living (ADL), and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL).
Results: Regression analysis shows that some variables from each of these clusters are significantly associated with CQOLC, in particular: (a) the gender of the caregiver (st.ß = .115, t = 2.765, p = .006) and the time spent for caregiving (st.ß = - .165, t = - 3.960, p < .001); (b) the scores obtained by the caregivers in POMS,CBI (st.ß = - .523, t = - 16.984, p < .001 and st.ß = - .373, t = - 12.950, p < .001, respectively) and PCS (st.ß = .092, t = 3.672, p < .001); (c) the gender (st.ß = - .081, t = - 1.933, p = .045) and the IADL score (st.ß = .195, t = 4.643, p < .001) of the patient.
Conclusions: A multidimensional evaluation is a key strategy to identify the most vulnerable caregivers. Apart from the condition of the patient, the gender of the caregivers, the time spent for caregiving and, above all, their psychological condition are strong predictors of caregivers’ QoL.
BACKGROUND: In the variegated legislative framework on advance directives, the first specific regulation in Italy on this issue came into force only in 2018.
RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: This qualitative study aimed to investigate the implications of the new Italian law on advance directives in clinical practice from the perspective of those who deal with this delicate ethical issue on an everyday basis, that is, Italian healthcare professionals.
RESEARCH DESIGN: A qualitative research design using semi-structured audio-recorded interviews was adopted. The data collection and analysis were performed according to the Grounded Theory approach.
PARTICIPANTS: Nineteen healthcare professionals (16 nurses, 3 physicians) working in a palliative care unit of a research and clinical institute in Italy.
ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS: The study is part of the WeDistress HELL Project (WEllness and DISTRESS in HEalth care professionals dealing with end of Life and bioethicaL issues) approved by the Ethical Committee of ICS Maugeri - Institute of Pavia (Italy).
FINDINGS: The authors identified a main overall category, 'Pros and Cons of the Italian law on advance directives', composed of six constituent categories: Positive welcome, Self-determination and protection, Prompts for future betterment, Uncertainties, Lack of knowledge, and Neutrality and no suggestions.
DISCUSSION: The Italian law n. 219/2017 on advance directives was seen as a legal instrument possessing both strengths and weaknesses, but able to guarantee the patient's self-determination and support healthcare professionals in providing care according to patients' wishes.
CONCLUSION: An understanding of the healthcare providers' perspective may support the discussion on advance directives and bridge the gaps that currently persist in handling ethical issues.