Confronté aux situations de fin de vie, le droit se suffit-il à lui-même, parvient-il à lui seul à guider la décision médicale dans le sens du meilleur intérêt du malade ? Ne convient-il pas de prendre en compte les valeurs et considérations éthiques pour interpréter, compléter, parfois même adapter les règles de droit dans ce contexte d’extrême vulnérabilité ? Cette démarche se révèle aujourd’hui essentielle pour l’application effective du droit qui demeure, quoi qu’il en soit, bien délicate dans ces instants d’humanité si singuliers.
Existential suffering is commonly experienced by patients with serious medical illnesses despite the advances in the treatment of physical and psychological symptoms that often accompany incurable diseases. Palliative care (PC) clinicians wishing to help these patients are faced with many barriers including the inability to identify existential suffering, lack of training in how to address it, and time constraints. Although mental health and spiritual care providers play an instrumental role in addressing the existential needs of patients, PC clinicians are uniquely positioned to coordinate the necessary resources for addressing existential suffering in their patients. With this article, we present a case of a patient in existential distress and a framework to equip PC clinicians to assess and address existential suffering.
Background: Responding to an epidemic of opioid-related deaths, guidelines and laws have been implemented to promote safe opioid prescribing practices.
Objective: This study evaluates differences in screening practices and knowledge of laws between oncologists and cardiologists who prescribe opiates.
Design: Surveys regarding screening practices and knowledge of opioid prescribing laws were distributed in March 2017 to oncology and congestive heart failure (CHF) clinicians at the University of Virginia. Chi-square and Wilcoxon rank sum tests were used.
Results: Forty-six of 129 (35.6%) oncology providers and 7 of 14 (50%) CHF providers reported prescribing opiates in their clinic with usable survey results. The majority of oncology (65.22%) and cardiology (85.71%) providers report screening for substance abuse “when indicated” (p = 0.053). Only 19.6% of oncologists reported always using the prescription monitoring program (PMP), while 71.43% of cardiologists reported using it always (p = 0.014). Of the oncology providers, 66.67% report never using the urine drug screen (UDS), while 86.7% of cardiologists reported using it “when indicated” (p = 0.0086). Up to 34.78% of the oncologists and 57.14% of the cardiologists reported of never screening the family members for misuse (p = 0.317). Knowledge of laws was similar between groups, with 14.29% of cardiology and 17.39% of oncology providers reporting no knowledge of opioid prescribing laws (p = 0.2869).
Conclusions: Routine screening for substance misuse risk was uncommon for both groups, but cardiology providers were more likely to use the PMP or UDS. Knowledge gaps regarding Virginia laws were noted in both groups. Improved education regarding best practices and laws, as well as programs to promote screening, is needed for all providers.
Background: Legal concerns have been implicated in the occurrence of variability in decisions of limitations of medical treatment (LOMT) before death.
Objective: We aimed to assess differences in perceptions between physicians and prosecutors toward LOMT.
Measurements: We sent a survey to intensivists, oncologists, and prosecutors from Brazil, from February 2018 to May 2018. Respondents rated the degree of agreement with withholding or withdrawal of therapies in four different vignettes portraying a patient with terminal lung cancer. We measured the difference in agreement between respondents.
Results: There were 748 respondents, with 522 (69.8%) intensivists, 106 (14.2%) oncologists, and 120 (16%) prosecutors. Most respondents agreed with withhold of chemotherapy (95.2%), withhold of mechanical ventilation (MV) (90.2%), and withdrawal of MV (78.4%), but most (75%) disagreed with withdrawal of MV without surrogate's consent. Prosecutors were less likely than intensivists and oncologists to agree with withhold of chemotherapy (95.7% vs. 99.2% vs. 100%, respectively, p < 0.001) and withhold of MV (82.4% vs. 98.3% vs. 97.9%, respectively, p < 0.001), whereas intensivists were more likely to agree with withdrawal of MV than oncologists (87.1% vs. 76.1%, p = 0.002). Moreover, prosecutors were more likely to agree with withholding of active cancer treatment than with withholding of MV [difference (95% confidence interval, CI) = 13.2% (5.2 to 21.6), p = 0.001], whereas physicians were more likely to agree with withholding than with withdrawal of MV [difference (95% CI) = 10.9% (7.8 to 14), p < 0.001].
Conclusions: This study found differences and agreements in perceptions toward LOMT between prosecutors, intensivists, and oncologists, which may inform the discourse aimed at improving end-of-life decisions.
BACKGROUND: The intensity of end-of-life care varies substantially both within and between areas. Differing practice patterns of individual physicians are likely influenced by their peers.
OBJECTIVE: To assess whether intensity of end-of-life care previously provided by a physician's peers influences patterns of care at the end-of-life for that physician's patients.
RESEARCH DESIGN: Observational study.
SUBJECTS: A total of 185,947 fee-for-service Medicare enrollees with cancer who died during 2006-2010 who were treated by 26,383 physicians.
MEASURES: Spending in the last month of life, >1 emergency room visit, >1 hospitalization, intensive care unit admission in the last month of life, chemotherapy within 2 weeks of death, no/late hospice, terminal hospitalization.
RESULTS: Mean (SD) spending in the last month of life was $16,237 ($17,124). For each additional $1000 of spending for a peer physician's patients in the prior year, spending for the ego physician's patients was $83 higher (P<0.001). Among physicians with peers both in and out of their practice, more of the peer effect was explained by physicians outside of the practice ($72 increase for each $1000 increase by peer physicians' patients, P<0.001) than peer physicians in the practice ($27 for each $1000 increase by within-practice peer physicians' patients, P=0.01). Results were similar across the other measures of end-of-life care intensity.
CONCLUSIONS: Physician's peers exert influence on the intensity of care delivered to that physician's patients at the end-of-life. Physician education efforts led by influential providers and provider organizations may have potential to improve the delivery of high-value end-of-life care.
BACKGROUND: Assisted dying and continuous deep sedation (CDS) are controversial practices. Little is known about the perceptions of physicians and surrogates about these practices for patients with advanced dementia.
OBJECTIVES: To describe and compare physician and surrogate agreement with the use of assisted dying and CDS in advanced dementia.
DESIGN, SETTING, SUBJECTS: Physicians (n = 64) and surrogates (n = 168) of persons with advanced dementia were recruited as part of a randomized controlled trial in Switzerland that tested decision support tools in this population.
METHODS: At baseline, the participants were asked about their agreement with assisted dying and CDS in advanced dementia using the following response options: "completely agree," "somewhat agree," "somewhat disagree," "completely disagree," and "do not know." Multivariable logistic regressions compared the likelihood that surrogates versus physicians would completely or somewhat agree (vs. completely or somewhat disagree) with these practices.
RESULTS: The physicians and surrogates, respectively, had a mean age (SD) of 50.6 years (9.9) and 57.4 years (14.6); 46.9% (n = 30/64) and 68.9% (n = 115/167) were women. A total of 20.3% (n = 13/64) of the physicians and 47.0% (n = 79/168) of the surrogates agreed with assisted dying in advanced dementia. Surrogates were significantly more likely to agree with this practice than physicians (adjusted odds ratio, 3.87; 95% CI: 1.94, 7.69). With regard to CDS, 51.6% (n = 33/64) of the physicians and 41.9% (n = 70/169) of the surrogates agreed with this practice, which did not differ significantly between the groups.
CONCLUSIONS: The surrogates were more agreeable to considering assisted dying in the setting of advanced dementia than the physicians, and about half of the participants in both groups reported CDS to be an appropriate option for this population.
BACKGROUND: Specialty palliative care (PC) is underutilized for patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD). We sought to examine hepatologists' and gastroenterologists' attitudes about PC for patients with ESLD.
METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of hepatologists' and gastroenterologists' who provide care to patients with ESLD recruited from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases membership directory. Using a questionnaire adapted from prior studies, we examined physicians' attitudes about PC and whether these attitudes varied based on patients' candidacy for liver transplantation. We identified predictors of physicians' attitudes about PC using linear regression.
RESULTS: Approximately one-third of eligible physicians (396/1236, 32%) completed the survey. Most (95%) believed that centers providing care to patients with ESLD should have PC services, and 86% trusted PC clinicians to care for their patients. Only a minority reported collaborating frequently with inpatient (32%) or outpatient (11%) PC services. Most believed that when patients hear the term PC, they feel scared (94%) and anxious (87%). Most (83%) believed that patients would think nothing more could be done for their underlying disease if a PC referral was suggested. Physicians who believed that ESLD is a terminal condition (B=1.09, p = 0.006) reported more positive attitudes about PC. Conversely, physicians with negative perceptions of PC for transplant candidates (B = -0.22, SE = 0.05, p < 0.001) reported more negative attitudes toward PC.
CONCLUSION: Although most hepatologists' and gastroenterologists' believe that patients with ESLD should have access to PC, they reported rarely collaborating with PC and had substantial concerns about patients' perceptions of PC. Interventions are needed to overcome misperceptions of PC and promote collaboration with PC clinicians for patients with ESLD.
Pour les patients admis en unité de soins palliatifs (USP), les directives anticipées (DA) pourraient être un outil permettant de connaître leurs volontés et de s'inscrire dans le respect de leur autonomie. Cependant, les DA sont rarement rédigées ou peu contributives. Cette étude a pour objectif d'évaluer la faisabilité de la co-construction des DA en USP. La méthode utilisée est qualitative, celle d'une recherche-action. Elle a été réalisée sur deux mois dans l'USP du CHU de Bordeaux. Il a été proposé à des patients éligibles de co-construire leurs DA avec l'aide d'un médecin au cours d'un entretien semi-directif à propos des soins et de l'accompagnement de leur fin de vie. Une analyse de contenu des entretiens a été réalisée, suivie d'une évaluation du processus par un questionnaire de satisfaction. Sur les 28 patients hospitalisés dans l'USP sur cette période, douze étaient éligibles pour participer à l'étude. Sept patients ont accepté, mais l'état de santé de cinq d'entre eux s'est rapidement aggravé et seulement deux entretiens ont finalement pu être réalisés. Les difficultés mises en évidence pour la réalisation des DA sont le choix du moment adéquat pour initier la démarche et la nécessité d'adaptation au patient et à la situation. Néanmoins, cette co-construction a semblé permettre une meilleure contextualisation des DA dans le sens d'une démarche globale. La rédaction des DA a été difficilement réalisable du fait de la phase avancée de la maladie chez les personnes concernées. Il semblerait nécessaire d'anticiper l'information sur les DA plus précocement, comme par exemple durant la phase des traitements spécifiques. De plus, une co-construction des DA pourrait améliorer leur pertinence et leur utilité.
Objective: Cancer patients face many health challenges, including spiritual issues. Therefore, an awareness of health-care providers' perspective on spiritual care provision is important. This study aimed to determine health-care providers' perception of spiritual care and to examine the individual barriers to its implementation in cancer patients.
Methods: The present descriptive study included 136 physicians and nurses. The Spiritual Care Survey was used as a research tool. Data were analyzed through descriptive statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, version 20.0.
Results: In this study, 70.6% of the participants considered spiritual care to be influential in the patients' quality of life. However, 64.7% had received no spiritual care training, while 82.4% indicated a willingness to attend these courses. Regarding the obstacles to providing spiritual care, the highest and lowest scores, respectively, belonged to the lack of time and the person's reluctance to talk about spiritual issues.
Conclusions: Spiritual care has not yet found its proper place in the care setting of Iran, and health-care team members do not have sufficient training to provide this kind of care despite their belief in its positive impact on patients' quality of life.
Purpose: Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form is a legal document for terminally ill patients to make medical decisions with physicians near the end-of-life. A multicenter prospective study was conducted to evaluate the feasibility of POLST administration in actual oncological practice.
Materials and Methods: Patients with terminal cancer, age ≥20, and capable of communicating were eligible. The primary endpoint was the completion rate of POLST. Data about physicians' or patients' barriers were also collected.
Results: From June to December 2017, 336 patients from seven hospitals were eligible. Median patient age was 66 years (range, 20 to 94 years); 52.7% were male; and 60.4% had poor performance status. Primay cancer sites were hepato-pancreato-biliary (26.2%), lung (23.2%), and gastrointestinal (19.9%). Expected survival duration was 10.6±7.3 weeks, with 41.2% receiving hospice care, 37.9% showing progression after cancer treatment, and the remaining patients were under active treatment (15.8%) or initially diagnosed with terminal cancer (5.1%). POLST forms were introduced to 60.1% of patients, and 31.3% signed the form. Physicians' barriers were reluctance of family (49.7%), lack of rapport (44.8%), patients' denial of prognosis (34.3%), lack of time (22.7%), guilty feelings (21.5%), and uncertainty about either prognosis (21.0%) or the right time to discuss POLST (16.6%). The patients' barriers were the lack of knowledge/understanding of POLST (65.1%), emotional discomfort (63.5%), difficulty in decision-making (66.7%), or denial of prognosis (14.3%).
Conclusion: One-third of patients completed POLST forms, and various barriers were identified. To overcome such barriers, social engagement, education, and systematic support might be necessary.
CONTEXT: Although patient and physician characteristics are thought to be predictive of discretionary interventions at the end of life (DIALs), few studies have data on both parties.
OBJECTIVE: Test the hypothesis that patient preferences and physician attitudes are both independently associated with DIALS.
METHODS: We report secondary analyses of data collected prospectively from physicians (n=38) and patients with advanced cancer (n=265) in the Values and Options In Cancer Care (VOICE) study. Predictor variables were patient attitudes toward end-of-life care and physician-reported comfort with medical paternalism, assessed indirectly using a modified version of the Control Preference Scale. We explored whether the magnitude of the physician variable was influenced by the inclusion of particular patient treatment preference variables (i.e., effect modification). Outcomes were a chemotherapy use score (=<14 days before death [scored 2], 15-31 days before death [scored 1], > 31 days [scored 0]) and an Emergency Department (ED) visit/inpatient admission score (>=2 [scored 2], 1, 0) in the last month of life.
RESULTS: Chemotherapy scores were nearly .25 points higher if patients expressed a preference for experimental treatments with unknown benefit at study entry (.238 points (95% CI, 0.047-0.429) or reported an unfavorable attitude toward palliative care (0.247 points, 95%CI, 0.047-0.450). A 2 standard deviation difference in physician comfort with medical paternalism corresponded to standardized effects of .35 (95% CI, 0.03-0.66) for chemotherapy and .33 (95% CI, 0.04-0.61) for ED visits/inpatient admissions. There was no evidence of effect modification.
CONCLUSION: Patient treatment preferences and physician attitudes are independently associated with higher levels of treatment intensity before death. Greater research, clinical, and policy attention to patient treatment preferences and physician comfort with medical paternalism might lead to improvements in care of patients with advanced disease.
Importance: Despite its spread in much of the United States and increased international interest, the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) paradigm still lacks supporting evidence. The interrater reliability of the POLST form to translate patients' values and preferences into medical orders for care at the end of life remains to be studied.
Objective: To assess the interrater reliability of the medical orders documented in POLST forms.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study was conducted in a public university hospital in southeastern Brazil. Two independent researchers interviewed the same patients or decision-making surrogates (n = 64) during a single episode of hospitalization within a time frame of 1 to 7 days. Eligible participants were hospitalized adults aged 21 years or older who were expected to remain hospitalized for at least 4 days and whose attending physician responded no to the question, Would I be surprised if this patient died in the next year? Data collection occurred between November 1, 2015, and September 20, 2016, and first data analyses were performed on October 3, 2016.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Interrater reliability as measured by k statistics.
Results: Of the 64 participants interviewed in the study, 53 (83%) were patients and 11 (17%) were surrogates. Patients' mean (SD) age was 64 (14) years, and 35 patients (55%) and 8 surrogates (73%) were women. Overall, in 5 cases (8%), disagreement in at least 1 medical order for life-sustaining treatment was found in the POLST form, changing from the first interview to the second interview. The k statistic for cardiopulmonary resuscitation was 0.92 (95% CI, 0.80-1.00); for level of medical intervention, 0.89 (95% CI, 0.76-1.00); and for artificially administered nutrition, 0.92 (95% CI, 0.83-1.00).
Conclusions and Relevance: The high interrater reliability of the medical orders in POLST forms appears to offer further support for this advance care planning paradigm; in addition, the finding that this interrater reliability was not 100% underscores the need to ensure that patients or their surrogates have decision-making capacity and to confirm that the content of POLST forms accurately reflects patients' current treatment preferences.
This study aimed to investigate physicians' and nurses' knowledge and attitudes toward advance directives (ADs) for cancer patients, which empower patients to take decisions on end-of-life needs if they lose their capacity to make medical decisions. A cross-sectional study was conducted using convenience sampling. The outcomes were responses to the knowledge and attitude questions, and the main outcome variables were the total scores for knowledge and attitudes toward ADs. This study included 281 physicians and nurses (60.5%). Most physicians were men (95, 80.5%), whereas most nurses were women (147, 86.5%). The mean (standard deviation; SD) total knowledge score was 6.8 (4.0) for physicians and 9.1 (3.0) for nurses (p < 0.001). There was a significant difference in the total knowledge score between nurses and physicians, with an adjusted mean difference of 1.54 (95% confidence interval [CI]; 0.08-2.97). Other significant independent predictors of knowledge of ADs were female sex (1.60, 95% CI; 0.27-3.13) and education level (master's versus bachelor's: 1.26, 95% CI; 0.30-2.33 and Ph.D. versus bachelor's: 2.22, 95% CI; 0.16-4.52). Nurses' attitudes appeared to be significantly more positive than those of physicians, and the mean total attitude score (SD) was 19.5 for nurses (6.2) and 15.1 (8.1) for physicians (p < 0.001). The adjusted mean difference (95% CI) for nurses versus physicians was 3.71 (0.57-6.98). All participants showed a high level of knowledge of ADs; however, nurses showed considerably more positive attitudes than physicians.
BACKGROUND: Research demonstrates that the attitudes of religious physicians toward end-of-life care treatment can differ substantially from their nonreligious colleagues. While there are various religious perspectives regarding treatment near the end of life, the attitudes of Muslim physicians in this area are largely unknown.
OBJECTIVE: This article attempts to fill in this gap by presenting American Muslim physician attitudes toward end-of-life care decision-making and by examining associations between physician religiosity and these attitudes.
METHODS: A randomized national sample of 626 Muslim physicians completed a mailed questionnaire assessing religiosity and end-of-life care attitudes. Religiosity, religious practice, and bioethics resource utilization were analyzed as predictors of quality-of-life considerations, attitudes regarding withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, and end-of-life treatment recommendations at the bivariate and multivariable level.
RESULTS: Two-hundred fifty-five (41% response rate) respondents completed surveys. Most physicians reported that religion was either very or the most important part of their life (89%). Physicians who reported consulting Islamic bioethics literature more often had higher odds of recommending active treatment over hospice care in an end-of-life case vignette. Physicians who were more religious had higher odds of viewing withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment more ethically and psychologically challenging than withholding it and had lower odds of agreeing that one should always comply with a competent patient's request to withdraw life-sustaining treatment.
DISCUSSION: Religiosity appears to impact Muslim physician attitudes toward various aspects of end-of-life health-care decision-making. Greater research is needed to evaluate how this relationship manifests itself in patient care conversations and shared clinical decision-making in the hospital.
As the median age of practicing physicians increases, ethical dilemmas due to age-related cognitive decline among clinicians will become ever more pressing. Compelling data show that despite acknowledgement of their duty to protect the public, physicians often fail to report themselves, their colleagues, or their physician-patients when cognitive decline appears to impact medical practice adversely. As such, efforts to educate physicians about ethical obligations and various tactful methodologies to report themselves or others seem ineffective. Illustrated by a case report of age-related cognitive decline in a practicing physician, practical recommendations are made both to develop and validate cognitive screening in middle-aged physicians, presumably before the onset of age-related cognitive decline.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Despite evidence for the benefits of palliative care (PC) referrals and early advance care planning (ACP) discussions for patients with chronic diseases, patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD) often do not receive such care. We sought to examine physicians' perceptions of the barriers to PC and timely ACP discussions for patients with ESLD.
METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of hepatologists and gastroenterologists who provide care to adult patients with ESLD, recruited from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases 2018 membership registry. Using a questionnaire adapted from prior studies, we assessed physicians' perceptions of barriers to PC use and timely ACP discussions; 396 of 1236 eligible physicians (32%) completed the questionnaire.
RESULTS: The most commonly cited barriers to PC use were cultural factors that affect perception of PC (by 95% of respondents), unrealistic expectations from patients about their prognosis (by 93% of respondents), and competing demands for clinicians' time (by 91% of respondents). Most respondents (81%) thought that ACP discussions with patients who have ESLD typically occur too late in the course of illness. The most commonly cited barriers to timely ACP discussions were insufficient communication between clinicians and families about goals of care (by 84% of respondents) and insufficient cultural competency training about end-of-life care (81%).
CONCLUSION: There are substantial barriers to use of PC and timely discussions about ACP-most hepatologists and gastroenterologists believe that ACP occurs too late for patients with ESLD. Strategies are needed to overcome barriers and increase delivery of high-quality palliative and end-of-life care to patients with ESLD.
OBJECTIVES: Early palliative care leads to meaningful improvements in physical and psychosocial symptoms, as well as quality of life, in patients with advanced cancer. Patients with haematological malignancies, despite a high level of distress, continue to have less access to palliative care services. The aim of this study was to identify haematologists' perceptions of palliative care, as well as barriers to patient referral.
METHODS: We used a qualitative grounded theory methodology. Twenty-four medical haematologists involved in clinical practice from two French centres in Lyon-the Lyon Sud University Hospital and the Léon Bérard Cancer Center-were included. The interview guide questions aimed to establish the clinical situations which triggered referral to palliative care and how participants perceived palliative care.
RESULTS: Data saturation was reached after 14 interviews. The data analysis highlighted four themes. The aim of palliative care was clearly identified as alleviating severe suffering. Palliative care was identified as a separate specialty, and respondents expressed the need for collaboration. Early intervention was perceived as beneficial to avoid certain situations such as hospitalisation or emergency department visits at the end of life. The main barrier to palliative care referral remained the negative connotations associated with the term 'palliative', which was overwhelmingly associated with the end of life.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Our results suggest that the principal barrier to palliative care referral is the term 'palliative care'; haematologists would prefer 'supportive care' instead.
The Royal College of Physicians is to remove its opposition to assisted dying and adopt a neutral stance on the issue after announcing the results of a poll of its members.
Of the 6885 doctors who responded to the poll (20% of the RCP’s members and fellows), 43% thought that the college should be opposed to changing the law on assisted dying. This was similar to the 44% when RCP members were last polled in 2014.
But the proportion of respondents wanting the RCP to support a change in the law increased to 32% in 2019, from 25% in 2014. A quarter of respondents (25%) in the latest poll thought that the RCP should be neutral, down from 31% in 2014.
Introduction: Stroke is the development of a focal neurological disturbance lasting >24 h, of vascular origin. In India, stroke is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality. Most stroke patients, during their duration of treatment and posthospitalization, want relief of suffering, a sense of control and minimized burden on the family.
Aim: The aim of this study is to describe treating doctors' perspectives on the palliative needs of stroke patients in India.
Methodology: This qualitative study was conducted at a tertiary care hospital in South India. A total of 17 doctors involved in the care of stroke patients were interviewed, using an interview guide. The interviews were audio recorded simultaneously. The audio recording was transcribed verbatim, and the data were coded using a grounded theory approach. An inductive approach using thematic analysis was used to manually analyze the data.
Results: Eight themes emerged. (1) Functional disability: loss of independence due to immobility, speech deficits, visual disturbances, feeding difficulties, and incontinence cause immense distress. (2) Physical burden: pain in the form of central poststroke pain, periarthritic shoulder, psychogenic pain, and various sequela of chronic bed bound state like bed sores and pneumonia add to the burden. (3) Psychological needs: depression is common in stroke patients along with other psychological issues such as anxiety, agitation, apathetic state, and behavioral disturbances (4) Social issues: Cost of treatment of stroke patients coupled with their loss of employment leads to huge economic burden. They also face abandonment by children or spouse, in all sections of socioeconomic strata. (5) Caregiver burden: caregiver has a major role in a setting of stroke and in the long-term affects all domains of their lives, compromising their psychological and physical health. (6) Counseling-an unmet need: counseling is particularly important in a setting of stroke for the patient as well as the caregivers and results in a better patient outcome. However, clinicians expressed that it was inadequate due to the huge patient load, time constraints, and lack of effective counseling skills. (7) Spiritual needs: few clinicians stated that existential distress and spiritual struggle are seen in debilitated stroke victims and are often unaddressed. (8) Issues at the end of life care: patients with massive stroke, multiple comorbidities, and poor rehabilitative potential requires end of life care.
Conclusions: From the interviews of the clinicians, we can conclude that care of a stroke patient is more than medical management and rehabilitation, as several other aspects of the patient's life are affected by the condition. The quality of life aspect has to be looked upon as an area that requires active intervention in a setting of stroke. Physical disabilities were viewed as the most significant factor in reducing the quality of life. Spiritual needs have a low priority in comparison to other physical needs. Due to high patient load and time constraints, many of the needs are unaddressed. Two important areas where palliative medicine has a major role in a setting of stroke are counseling and alleviating caregiver burden. However, referral of stroke patients to palliative medicine is low and further research to identify barriers to specialist palliative care of stroke patients will help in promoting the referrals to palliative medicine.
Context: Although palliative care is rapidly being disseminated throughout Japan as a result of government policy, a systematic syllabus of palliative medicine for physicians has not been developed.
Aims: This study aimed to develop a Japanese national consensus syllabus of palliative medicine for physicians.
Design: We used a modified Delphi method to develop the consensus syllabus.
Methods and Setting: We created a Delphi panel by selecting 20 expert eligible panelists consisting of Diplomate or Faculty of the Specialty Board of Palliative Medicine and certified by the Japanese Society for Palliative Medicine. We inducted external reviewers from 11 palliative care-related organizations.
Results: Among 20 experts surveyed, 20 (100%) responded over all rounds. Ten (50%) participated in a panel meeting. In the first round, 179 of 179 (100%) learning objectives were judged to be appropriate and 5 of 179 (3%) learning objectives were judged to be too difficult. In the panel meeting, 25 learning objectives were excluded, three new learning objectives were added, and 15 learning objectives were reworded. In the second round, 18 of 18 (100%) learning objectives were judged to be appropriate. The final version of the syllabus developed consists of 157 specific behavioural objectives and 22 general instructional objectives across 22 courses.
Conclusions: We have developed the first national consensus syllabus of palliative medicine for physicians in Japan. Based on this syllabus, a training program on palliative medicine will be established by training facilities in Japan, and physicians will be able to practice specific palliative care.