Objectives To evaluate the impact of provision and timing of palliative care (PC) on potentially inappropriate end-of-life care to patients with cancer in a mixed generalist—specialist PC model.
Method A retrospective population-based observational study using a national administrative health insurance database. All 43 067 adults in the Netherlands, who were diagnosed with or treated for cancer during the year preceding their death in 2017, were included. Main exposure was either generalist or specialist PC initiated >30 days before death (n=16 967). Outcomes were measured over the last 30 days of life, using quality indicators for potentially inappropriate end-of-life care.
Results In total, 14 504 patients (34%) experienced potentially inappropriate end-of-life care; 2732 were provided with PC >30 days before death (exposure group) and 11 772 received no PC or =30 days before death (non-exposure group) (16% vs 45%, p<0.001). Most patients received generalist PC (88%). Patients provided with PC >30 days before death were 5 times less likely to experience potentially inappropriate end-of-life care (adjusted OR (AOR) 0.20; (95% CI 0.15 to 0.26)) than those with no PC or PC in the last 30 days. Both early (>90 days) and late (>30 and=90 days) PC initiation had lower odds for potentially inappropriate end-of-life care (AOR 0.23 and 0.19, respectively).
Conclusion Timely access to PC in a mixed generalist—specialist PC model significantly decreases the likelihood of potentially inappropriate end-of-life care for patients with cancer. Generalist PC can play a substantial role.
General practitioners (GPs) are increasingly expected to provide palliative care as ageing populations put pressure on specialist services. Some GPs, however, cite barriers to providing this care including prognostication challenges and lack of confidence. Palliative care content within clinical practice guidelines might serve as an opportunistic source of informational support to GPs. This review analysed palliative care content within Australian guidelines for life-limiting conditions to determine the extent to which it might satisfy GPs' stated information needs and support them to provide quality end-of-life care. Six databases and guideline repositories were searched (2011-2018). Eligible guidelines were those for a GP audience and explicitly based on an appraisal of all available evidence. Content was mapped against an established palliative care domain framework (PEPSI-COLA) and quality was assessed using AGREE-II. The nine guidelines meeting inclusion criteria were heterogenous in scope and depth of palliative care domain coverage. The 'communication' needs domain was best addressed while patient physical and emotional needs were variably covered. Spiritual, out-of-hours, terminal care and aftercare content was scant. Few guidelines addressed areas GPs are known to find challenging or acknowledged useful decision-support tools. A template covering important domains might reduce content variability across guidelines.
OBJECTIVES: Although general practice is an ideal setting for ensuring timely initiation of advance care planning (ACP) in people with chronic life-limiting illness, evidence on the effectiveness of ACP in general practice and how it can be implemented is lacking. This study aims to evaluate feasibility and acceptability of study procedures and intervention components of an intervention to facilitate the initiation of ACP in general practice for people with chronic life-limiting illness.
METHODS: Pilot cluster-randomised controlled trial testing a complex ACP intervention in general practice versus usual care (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02775032). We used a mixed methods approach using detailed documentation of the recruitment process, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews.
RESULTS: A total of 25 general practitioners (GPs) and 38 patients were enrolled in the study. The intervention was acceptable to GPs and patients, with GPs valuing the interactive training and patients finding ACP conversations useful. However, we found a number of challenges regarding feasibility of recruitment procedures, such GP as recruitment proceeding more slowly than anticipated as well as difficulty applying the inclusion criteria for patients. Some GPs found initiating ACP conversations difficult. The content of the patient booklet was determined to potentially be too complex for patients with a lower health literacy.
CONCLUSION: Although the intervention was well-accepted by GPs and patients, we identified critical points for improvement with regard to the study procedures as well as potential improvements of the intervention components. When these points are addressed, the intervention can proceed to a large-scale, phase III trial to test its effectiveness.
BACKGROUND: For general practitioners (GPs) to implement early palliative care, the first step is to identify patients with palliative care needs, e.g. with a no-response to the Surprise Question (SQ) (not surprised if a patient would die within a year).
AIM: To describe setting-specific screening results of patients eligible for early palliative care in family practices, here defined as patients aged 45 years with a GPs' no-answer to the SQ.
DESIGN AND SETTING: Secondary analysis. Cross-sectional descriptive study in family practices in 5 Belgian areas.
METHODS: GPs were recruited by targeted sampling. As a first part of an implementation research project, participating GPs provided demographic information about themselves and also provided a response to the SQ for all patients who came to the practice in ten consecutive office days. A summary table describing the gender, age, location of contact (surgery, patient's home, or nursing home) of the patients was provided by each GP.
RESULTS: 56 GPs provided complete data for the practice summary tables. In total 9,150 patients were described (all ages, all settings), of which 506 patients (6%) had a SQ-no-as-answer. The distribution of SQ-no-as-answer patients per setting was 152/7659 (2%) patients seen in family practice surgeries, 139/998 (14%) patients seen in their homes, and 215/493 (44%) patients seen innursing homes.
CONCLUSIONS: There was quite a large number of SQ-no-as-answer patients, with possible palliative care needs. To enhance implementation of early palliative care, future research should compare results of SQ and other screening tools with palliative care symptoms assessments.
AIM: To explore district nurses and general practitioners (GPs) interaction in a case seminar when discussing nutritional care for patients in palliative phases cared for at home and to construct a theoretical model illuminating the professionals' main concern.
BACKGROUND: Nutritional care for people who are frail and older requires collaboration between nurses and physicians in primary health care. However, both collaboration and knowledge need to be improved, and there is a lack of continuing interprofessional education to meet these needs. We therefore developed an interprofessional educational intervention about nutritional care for patients in palliative phases of disease that was adapted to primary home health care and ended with a case seminar. The case seminar discussions gave us the opportunity to study micro-level interactions between district nurses and GPs in a learning context.
METHODS: Grounded theory method was used to construct a theoretical model of the interactions between district nurses and GPs as they discussed an authentic case.
FINDINGS: A substantive grounded theory that illuminates how district nurses and GPs interacted, negotiating responsibility for nutritional care for patients in palliative phases cared for at home. The theory is described in a tentative theoretical model that delineates factors that facilitate interprofessional dialogue and lead to interprofessional learning, or block such dialogue and learning. The theoretical model illuminates the importance of a distinction between uniprofessional and interprofessional dialogue in interprofessional educational interventions. It suggests that interprofessional learning was generated directly from the interaction between district nurses and GPs in the case seminar discussions. The model can be used to promote better teamwork and collaboration in caring; for example, as a basis for reflection in collaborative and interprofessional learning interventions and as a tool for facilitators and teachers.
Background and Objective: This review updates and expands on previous reviews of educational interventions for primary care providers (PCPs) involved in palliative and end-of-life care (PEoLC) and is the first to include early studies related to medical assistance in dying (MAiD).
Methods: A comprehensive search strategy was conducted across five electronic databases to locate published interventional studies related to ongoing PEoLC and/or MAiD education for primary care professionals. A descriptive summary of results and a narrative discussion of common themes and comparisons are provided.
Results: Thirty-seven studies met the inclusion criteria. The researchers found a myriad of interventions, including courses based, practical experience, mentoring, and workshops. The researchers categorized results by four domains: attitude, confidence, knowledge, and skills. Across domains, seven educational topics emerged: general care, interprofessional collaboration, nutrition, pain and symptom management, patient communication, and professional coping. Overall, studies employed various methodologies, but often relied on cross-sectionally measured self-assessment. Two articles were found that measured the impact of MAiD education.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that PEoLC education can improve PCPs' perceived attitudes, confidence, knowledge, and skills across multiple areas of palliative care practice. While PCPs across studies valued educational interventions, the findings relating to the impact of PEoLC education on PCP's provision of effective PEoLC were unclear. However, most interventions resulted in enhanced confidence and knowledge. To date, there are only two studies that have examined MAiD educational programs. There is a need for studies of higher rigor with more emphasis on follow-up to clarify the impact training has on those involved in PEoLC and MAiD.
Médecin de famille formée aux soins palliatifs, l'auteure expose trois conditions dont le respect peut garantir de connaître une mort sereine tout en assurant une préparation à cette ultime étape de l'existence à travers une vie épanouie. Ces conditions, liées à la joie profonde, à l'ouverture aux autres et à la paix intérieure, sont accompagnées de nombreux exercices afin d'apprendre à les vivre.
OBJECTIVES: This study presents the design of an integrated, proactive palliative care pathway covering the full care cycle and evaluates its effects using 3 types of outcomes: (1) physician-reported outcomes, (2) outcomes reported by family, and (3) (utilization of) health care outcomes.
DESIGN: A clustered, partially controlled before-after study with a multidisciplinary integrated palliative care pathway as its main intervention.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: after assessment in hospital departments of oncology, and geriatrics, and in 13 primary care facilities, terminally ill patients were proactively included into the pathway. Patients' relatives and patients' general practitioners (GPs) participated in a before/after survey and in interviews and focus groups.
INTERVENTION: A multidisciplinary, integrated palliative care pathway encompassing (among others) early identification of the palliative phase, multidisciplinary consultation and coordination, and continuous monitoring of outcomes.
MEASURES: Measures included GP questionnaire: perceived quality of palliative care; questionnaires by family members: FAMCARE, QOD-LTC, EDIZ; and 3 types of health care outcomes: (1) utilization of primary care: consultations, intensive care, communication, palliative home visits, consultations and home visits during weekends and out-of-office-hours, ambulance, admission to hospital; (2) utilization of hospital care: outpatient ward consultations, day care, emergency room visits, inpatient care, (radio) diagnostics, surgical procedures, other therapeutic activities, intensive care unit activities; (3) pharmaceutical care utilization.
RESULTS: GPs reported that palliative patients die more often at their preferred place of death, and that they now act more proactively toward palliative patients. Relatives of included, deceased patients reported clinically relevant improved quality of dying, and more timely palliative care. Patients in the pathway received more (intensive) primary care, less unexpected care during out-of-office hours, and more often received hospital care in the form of day care.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: An integrated palliative care pathway improves a variety of clinical outcomes important to patients, their families, physicians, and the health care system. The integration of palliative care into multidisciplinary, proactive palliative care pathways, is therefore a desirable future development.
In the Netherlands during the past decade, a growing number of people with dementia (PWDs) requested euthanasia, and each year more of such requests were granted. We aimed to get quantitative insights in problems and needs general practitioners (GPs) have when confronted with a euthanasia request by a person with dementia (PWD). A concept survey was composed. Expert validity of the survey was achieved through pilot testing A postal survey was sent to a random sample of 900 Dutch GPs, regardless their opinion on or practical experience with euthanasia. Collected data were analysed with descriptive statistics. Of 894 GPs, 423 (47.3%) completed the survey, of whom 176 (41.6%) had experience with euthanasia requests from PWDs. Emotional burden was reported most frequently (86; 52.8%), as well as feeling uncertain about the mental competence of the PWD (77; 47.2%), pressure by relatives (70; 42.9%) or the PWD (56; 34.4%), and uncertainty about handling advance euthanasia directives (AEDs) (43; 26.4%). GPs would appreciate more support by a SCEN physician (an independent physician for support, information and formal consultation around euthanasia). (291; 68.8%), a geriatric consultation team (185; 43.7%), the end-of-life clinic (184; 43.5%), or a palliative care consultation team (179; 42.3%). Surprisingly the need for moral deliberation was hardly mentioned. The reported burden and the rise in numbers and complexity of euthanasia requests from PWDs warrants primary care support by easier access to colleagues with expertise and training on end of life care needs of patients with dementia and their caregivers.
BACKGROUND: Most French people (71%) would like to die at home, but only one out of four actually do. While the difficulties inherent in the practice of home-based palliative care are well described, few studies highlight the resources currently used by general practitioners (GPs) in real life. We have therefore sought to highlight the resources actually used by GPs providing home-based palliative care.
METHODS: Twenty-one GPs of different ages and practice patterns agreed to participate to this qualitative study based upon semi-structured interviews. They were recruited according to a purposive sampling. Transcripts analysis was based upon General Inductive Analysis.
RESULTS: The resources highlighted have been classified into two main categories according to whether they were internal or external to the GPs. The internal resources raised included the doctor's practical experience and continuous medical education, personal history, work time organization and a tacit moral contract related to the referring GP's position. External resources included resource personnel, regional assistance platforms and health facilities, legislation.
CONCLUSION: This study provides a simple list that is easy to share and pragmatic solutions for GPs and policymakers. Home-based palliative care practice can simultaneously be burdensome and yet a fulfilling, meaningful activity, depending on self-efficacy and professional exhaustion (burnout), perhaps to a greater extent than on medical knowledge. Home-based palliative care promotion is a matter of social responsibility. The availability of multidisciplinary teams such as regional assistance platforms and Hospitalization at Home is particularly important for the management of palliative care. Policymakers should consolidate these specific resources out of hospitals, in community settings where the patients wish to end their life.
Introduction : Il n’existe que peu de données dans la littérature actuelle sur la manière dont les médecins généralistes vivent le décès de leurs patients. Les principales études sur le sujet sont des travaux qualitatifs. Il manque de travaux quantitatifs pour en dresser un état des lieux exhaustif. L’objectif de cette étude est d’analyser les décès des patients vécus comme difficiles par leur médecin généraliste.
Matériel et méthode : Il s’agissait d’une étude épidémiologique descriptive quantitative transversale. La population étudiée était celle de l’ensemble des médecins généralistes libéraux de la région Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Le critère de jugement principal était le pourcentage de médecins généralistes vivant difficilement le décès de leurs patients.
Résultats : Dans cette étude, 76 % des médecins généralistes vivaient comme difficile le décès de leurs patients. Ils étaient 29 % à ressentir le besoin d’être aidés dans cette situation. Le retentissement professionnel et personnel était présent chez respectivement 37 % et 31 % des médecins. La consommation de médicaments survenait dans 4,8 % de ces situations, celle d’alcool dans 4 % des cas. Les structures d’aides aux généralistes étaient insuffisantes pour 57 % d’entre eux.
Discussion et perspectives : Cette étude a mis en évidence que les médecins généralistes sont très affectés par les décès de leurs patients. Le retentissement émotionnel est intense et pourrait influer sur les soins apportés aux patients. Ces situations sont source de difficultés au cours de l’exercice professionnel comme dans la vie personnelle. Les structures d’aide existantes sont très insuffisantes et méconnues.
Conclusion : Cette étude a permis de dresser un état des lieux de la souffrance des médecins généralistes lors du décès de leurs patients. Il est nécessaire de mieux accompagner les médecins dans cette situation.
Introduction : La plupart des Français souhaitent mourir à domicile mais peu d’entre eux y décèdent réellement. L’expression par le patient de son souhait sur le lieu de son décès en favorise le respect, mais les médecins connaissent peu ces souhaits. L’objectif de l’étude est de recueillir la façon dont les personnes en situation palliative à domicile envisagent d’aborder le lieu de décès avec leur médecin généraliste.
Méthode : Une étude qualitative a été réalisée par entretiens individuels semi-dirigés au domicile des personnes atteintes d’une pathologie incurable avec un pronostic vital entre 4 semaines et 2 ans.
Résultats : 15 entretiens ont été menés. La plupart des personnes interrogées souhaitent mourir à la maison, proche des leurs, mais le besoin d’être accompagné et de préserver leur entourage semble être plus important pour elles. Elles attendent que le médecin traitant aborde la fin de vie et le lieu de décès avec disponibilité, écoute et bienveillance, et qu’il y montre de l’intérêt. L’émergence de trois profils (paternaliste, autonomiste et intermédiaire) illustre la façon dont elles envisagent ces discussions avec leur médecin traitant.
Discussion : Les personnes en situation palliative à domicile attendent que le médecin traitant aborde la fin de vie avec une attitude adaptée au profil de chacun. Une consultation dédiée permettrait au médecin généraliste de créer des conditions favorables afin de donner au malade une opportunité d’aborder ce sujet sensible et de respecter ses souhaits.
Conclusion : Les malades souhaitent une implication du médecin généraliste dans les discussions anticipées.
BACKGROUND: Euthanasia has been regulated by law under strict conditions in the Netherlands since 2002. Since then the number of euthanasia cases has constantly increased, and increased exponentially for patients with dementia (PWD). The number of euthanasia requests by such patients is even higher. Recently, an interview study showed that physicians who are confronted with a PWD's euthanasia request experience problems with communication, pressure from relatives, patients, and society, workload, interpretation of the law, and ethical considerations. Moreover, if honoured, the physician and patient may interpret the right moment for euthanasia differently.
AIM: To identify ways of supporting GPs confronted with a PWD's euthanasia request.
DESIGN AND SETTING: Two expert nominal group meetings were organised with Dutch care physicians for older people, GPs, legal experts, a healthcare chaplain, a palliative care consultant, and a psychologist.
METHOD: A total of 15 experts participated in the meetings. Both meetings were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Four themes emerged from the meetings: support provided by healthcare professionals, influencing public opinion, educational activities, and managing time and work pressure. The need for support was considered highest for GPs for all of these themes.
CONCLUSION: Consensus was reached with the help of experts on support needs for GPs confronted with euthanasia requests from PWD. A concise and clear explanation of the law is strongly desired. Changing public opinion seems the most challenging and a long-term aim. Communication training for finding the right balance between the physician's professional responsibility and the patient's autonomy should be made available, as a short-term aim.
Introduction : La médecine palliative est un "prendre soin" qui assure une optimisation de la qualité de vie des patients atteints d’une maladie incurable, non exclusivement lors de la phase terminale de leur maladie. L’objectif de recherche est de recueillir et d’analyser le regard sur les soins palliatifs de patients consultant chez le médecin généraliste. L’hypothèse de travail est que les soins palliatifs sont encore, a priori, trop souvent associés à la prise en charge de patients mourants, et leur utilité, à un stade précoce de la maladie en termes de soulagement des symptômes, semble méconnue.
Méthode : Éude qualitative par des entretiens semi-dirigés auprès de patients consultant chez leur médecin généraliste.
Résultats : Un total de 11 entretiens ont été menés. L’analyse thématique retrouvait 5 thèmes : la médecine palliative vue comme les soins palliatifs terminaux ; les soins palliatifs vus, comme un réel accompagnement ; l’évocation des soins palliatifs avait projeté les patients sur leurs propres peurs ; le regard des patients sur la démarche palliative, après les avoir informés ; et l’euthanasie.
Discussion : La médecine palliative est réduite aux soins palliatifs terminaux chez les patients, ce qui les a projetés vers leur propre mort. Nous savons qu’une appréhension des soins et des a priori négatifs ne permettent pas la meilleure alliance thérapeutique. Cette méconnaissance de la médecine palliative a été confronté à une connaissance de l’euthanasie, qui je le rappelle est interdite en France. Cependant, après informations ; les patients ont bien montré au cours de l’entretien leur intérêt pour une démarche palliative précoce dans le cadre d’une maladie incurable.
Introduction : En France, un quart des décès ont lieu en EHPAD (établissements d’hébergement pour personnes âgées dépendantes), soit environ 150 000 décès par an (DRESS 2018). Un total de 60 % de résidents nécessitent des soins palliatifs dans ces structures or il existe actuellement un réel déficit de leur accompagnement. Un total de 24 % d’entre eux se trouveraient encore dans un réel inconfort lors de leur dernière semaine de vie (rapport Sicard 2012).
Objectif : Cette étude visait à explorer le ressenti des équipes soignantes concernant la prise en charge de la douleur des patients en soins palliatifs vivant en EHPAD en vue d’améliorer celle-ci.
Matériel et méthode : Il s’agissait d’une étude qualitative par entretiens individuels semi- directifs, recueillant l’opinion de six médecins et neuf infirmiers travaillant dans sept EHPAD.
Résultats : Les soignants se sentaient généralement en difficulté lors de la prise en charge de la douleur des résidents en fin de vie. Ils attribuaient le plus souvent ces difficultés à un manque de formation en douleur et en soins palliatifs et à un manque de moyens humains : absence d’infirmièr(e) sur place la nuit, accès difficile aux médecins traitants, faibles effectifs de soignants. Dans ce contexte, leurs ressentis étaient très variés avec une large palette émotionnelle de sentiments rapportés : d’une forte implication émotionnelle ou grande empathie, parfois sources de souffrance éthique ; à une réelle distanciation qui semblait plus protectrice.
Conclusion : Les principales pistes d’amélioration de la prise en charge de la douleur des patients en fin de vie en EHPAD identifiées par les soignants dans cette étude étaient le développement des formations et l’augmentation des moyens humains.
Context: Patients with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can develop increasing breathlessness, which can persist despite optimal medical management—refractory breathlessness. Management can be challenging for all clinicians and requires a broad approach that includes optimization of disease directed therapies, non-pharmacological strategies to manage breathlessness and for some patients opioids.
Objectives: To explore the approaches to breathlessness management and palliative care undertaken by Australian General Practitioners (GP) for patients with severe COPD and refractory breathlessness.
Methods: A case-vignette based survey was conducted with Australian GPs to determine their approaches to breathlessness management and palliative care in COPD.
Results: Of the 137 GPs, 66% recommended commencing an additional medication to manage refractory breathlessness. Thirty-eight GPs (28%) recommended opioids and 26 (19%) recommended guideline discordant treatments. Two-thirds of GPs had concerns regarding the use of opioids in COPD. Half (55%) of GPs were comfortable providing general palliative care to patients with COPD and 62 (45%) had referred patients with COPD to specialist palliative care services. Most respondents wanted further training to manage severe COPD and severe chronic breathlessness.
Conclusion: Most GPs recognized and were willing to add specific treatments for severe chronic breathlessness. However, experience prescribing opioids for severe chronic breathlessness was low, with many practitioners holding significant concerns regarding adverse effects. Many GPs are uncomfortable offering a palliative approach to their COPD patients, yet these patients are not routinely referred to specialist palliative care services despite their immense needs. GPs therefore desire education and support to overcome these barriers.
BACKGROUND: GPs have a central role in decisions about prescribing anticipatory medications to help control symptoms at the end of life. Little is known about GPs' decision-making processes in prescribing anticipatory medications, how they discuss this with patients and families, or the subsequent use of prescribed drugs.
AIM: To explore GPs' decision-making processes in the prescribing and use of anticipatory medications for patients at the end of life.
DESIGN AND SETTING: A qualitative interview study with GPs working in one English county.
METHOD: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 13 GPs. Interview transcripts were analysed inductively using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Three themes were constructed from the data: something we can do, getting the timing right, and delegating care while retaining responsibility. Anticipatory medications were a tangible intervention GPs felt they could offer patients approaching death (something we can do). The prescribing of anticipatory medications was recognised as a harbinger of death for patients and their families. Nevertheless, GPs preferred to discuss and prescribe anticipatory medications weeks before death was expected whenever possible (getting the timing right). After prescribing medications, GPs relied on nurses to assess when to administer drugs and keep them updated about their use (delegating care while retaining responsibility).
CONCLUSION: GPs view anticipatory medications as key to symptom management for patients at the end of life. The drugs are often presented as a clinical recommendation to ensure patients and families accept the prescription. GPs need regular access to nurses and rely on their skills to administer drugs appropriately. Patients' and families' experiences of anticipatory medications, and their preferences for involvement in decision making, warrant urgent investigation.
BACKGROUND: General practitioners (GPs) and general practice nurses (GPNs) face increasing demands to provide palliative care (PC) or end-of-life care (EoLC) as the population ages. In order to maximise the impact of GPs and GPNs, the impact of different models of care that have been developed to support their practice of EoLC needs to be understood.
OBJECTIVE: To examine published models of EoLC that incorporate or support GP and GPN practice, and their impact on patients, families and the health system.
METHOD: Systematic literature review. Data included papers (2000 to 2017) sought from Medline, Psychinfo, Embase, Joanna Briggs Institute and Cochrane databases.
RESULTS: From 6209 journal articles, 13 papers reported models of care supporting the GP and GPN's role in EoLC or PC practice. Services and guidelines for clinical issues have mixed impact on improving symptoms, but improved adherence to clinical guidelines. National Frameworks facilitated patients being able to die in their preferred place. A single specialist PC-GP case conference reduced hospitalisations, better maintained functional capacity and improved quality of life parameters in both patients with cancer and without cancer. No studies examined models of care aimed at supporting GPNs.
CONCLUSIONS: Primary care practitioners have a natural role to play in EoLC, and most patient and health system outcomes are substantially improved with their involvement. Successful integrative models need to be tested, particularly in non-malignant diseases. Such models need to be explored further. More work is required on the role of GPNs and how to support them in this role.
Background: General Practitioners (GPs) are the main providers of primary palliative care (PPC). At the same time they are the main initiators of specialised palliative homecare (SPHC). In Germany, little is known about factors which influence GPs in their involvement of SPHC. Aim of our study is to identify factors that drive GPs to give value to and involve SPHC.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was performed. In 2018, questionnaires were mailed to 6000 randomly selected GPs from eight German federal states, focusing on the extent of GPs’ palliative care activities and their involvement of SPHC.
Results: With a response rate of 19.4% and exclusion of GPs working in SPHC-teams, n = 1026 questionnaires were appropriate for analysis. GPs valued SPHC support as the most “important/very important” for both “technical/invasive treatment measures” (95%) and availability outside practice opening hours (92%).
The most relevant factor influencing perceived SPHC-importance was GPs’ self-reported extent of engagement in palliative care (ß = - 0.283; CI 95% = - 0.384;-0.182), followed by the perceived quality of utilised SPHC (ß = 0.119; CI 95% = 0.048;0.190), involvement in treatment of palliative patients after SPHC initiation (ß = 0.088; CI 95% = 0.042;0.134), and conviction that palliative care should be a central part of GPs’ work (ß = - 0.062; CI 95% = - 0.116;-0.008). Perceived SPHC-importance is also associated with SPHC-referrals (ß =0.138; p < 0.001). The lower the engagement of GPs in palliative care, the more they involve SPHC and vice versa.
Conclusions: GPs with low reported activity in palliative care are more likely to initialise SPHC for palliative care activities they do not deliver themselves for various reasons, which might mean that the involvement of SPHC is substitutive instead of complementary to primary palliative care. This finding and its interpretation should be given more attention in the future policy framework for (specialised) palliative homecare.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to determine how often patients who choose voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED) are accompanied by Swiss family physicians, how physicians classify this process, and physicians' attitudes and professional stance toward VSED.
METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study between August 2017 and July 2018 among 751 practicing family physicians in Switzerland (response rate 74%; 70.7% men; average age 58 (±9) years). We used a standardized evidence-based questionnaire for the survey.
RESULTS: VSED is well-known among family physicians (81.9%), and more than one-third (42.8%) had accompanied at least one patient during VSED. In 2017, 1.1% of all deaths that occurred in Swiss nursing homes or in a private home were owing to VSED. This phenomenon was classified as a natural dying process (59.3%), passive euthanasia (32.0%), or suicide (5.3%).
CONCLUSIONS: Although about one in three Swiss family physicians have accompanied a person during VSED, family physicians lack sufficient in-depth knowledge to address patients and their relatives in an appropriate manner during the process. Further training and development of practice recommendations are needed to achieve more standardized accompaniment of VSED.