BACKGROUND: At the end of life, about 85-90% of patients can be treated within primary palliative care (PC) provided by general practitioners (GPs). In Germany, there is no structured approach for the provision of PC by GPs including a systematic as well as timely identification of patients who might benefit from PC, yet. The project "Optimal care at the end of life" (OPAL) focusses on an improvement of primary PC for patients with both oncological and non-oncological chronic progressive diseases in their last phase of life provided by GPs and health care services.
METHODS: OPAL will take place in Hameln-Pyrmont, a rural region in Lower Saxony, Germany. Target groups are (a) GPs, (b) relatives of deceased patients and (c) health care providers. The study follows a three-phase approach in a mixed-methods and pre-post design. In phase I (baseline, t0) we explore the usual practice of providing PC for patients with chronic progressive diseases by GPs and the collaboration with other health care providers. In phase II (intervention) the Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool (SPICT) for the timely identification of patients who might benefit from PC will be implemented and tested in general practices. Furthermore, a public campaign will be started to inform stakeholders, to connect health care providers and to train change agents. In phase III (follow-up, t1) we investigate the potential effect of the intervention to evaluate differences in the provision of PC by GPs and to convey factors for the implementation of SPICT in general practices.
DISCUSSION: The project OPAL is the first study to implement the SPICT-DE regionwide in general practices in Germany. The project OPAL may contribute to an overall optimisation of primary PC for patients in Germany by reducing GPs' uncertainty in initiating PC, by consolidating their skills and competencies in identifying patients who might benefit from PC, and by improving the cooperation between GPs and different health care stakeholders.
OBJECTIVE: This study examined advance care planning as delivered by general practice registrars and recently fellowed GPs in New South Wales rural settings. The facilitators and barriers to advance care planning uptake in these areas were investigated, as well as the state of general practice training on advance care planning.
DESIGN: Qualitative descriptive methodology, involving semi-structured face-to-face and telephone interviews.
SETTING: Primary care.
PARTICIPANTS: General practice registrars and recently fellowed GPs in New South Wales rural settings. Definition of rural using the Australian Standard Geographical Classification - Remoteness Area. Thirteen participants were included in the study.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Thematic analysis of interview transcripts elucidated key issues emerging from participants' accounts.
RESULTS: Key barriers included doctor-dependent uptake, demands on doctor's time and the limited relevant resources available. Facilitators recognised were patient control in end-of-life care and long-standing relationships between GPs and their patients. Uptake among patients was low, and minimal training on advance care planning reported.
CONCLUSION: The lack of training opportunities in advance care planning during vocational training, especially when combined with the essential role played by rural GPs in initiating advance care planning and providing end-of-life care, appears to be a major problem that might contribute to poor uptake among patients in rural areas. This study demonstrated, however, the significant benefits that advance care planning could bring in patients living in rural communities if delivered effectively. Given that rural GPs face a number of barriers to providing routine health care, these results highlight an important need to provide GPs and rural communities with support, education, incentive, better administrative tools, options and greater awareness of advance care planning.
It is recommended that advance care planning take place across the lifespan. Rural populations have a heightened risk for poor quality and high cost of end-of-life care. A doctoral project was completed to assess rural nurses’ knowledge, attitudes, and experiences with advance directives using the Knowledge, Attitudinal, and Experimental Surveys on Advance Directives. Descriptive statistics were used for analysis. Participants were nurses who practice in rural settings (N = 22). The average age was 46.4 years; all were white (n = 22), and the majority were baccalaureate prepared (n = 12). Practice settings were primarily in home care and hospice. Knowledge scores on advance directives were low (57%). Nurses felt confident in counseling and initiating discussions with patients and families. Less than one-half of the nurses reported they feel part of the advance care planning team. The majority reported advance directive resources and mentorship of younger nurses would be beneficial and indicated the need for additional education, training, knowledge, time, and support to better assist with advance care planning. Project results and recommendations were presented to the participating health care organization. Recommendations included workplace education, support, mentorship, resources, and education on cultural sensitivity using the rural nursing theory.
Background: Few studies have specifically assessed the scope, nature and challenges of palliative and end-of-life care in rural general practice. These knowledge gaps limit the development of evidence-based policies and services for patients in the last months of life. This study aimed to explore the perspectives of general practitioners (GPs) and other stakeholders on rural GPs' involvement and challenges in providing palliative and end-of-life care in regional Australia.
Methods: A qualitative study involving five focus groups with 26 GPs based in rural/regional Western Australia together with 15 individual telephone interviews with four GPs and 11 other stakeholders involved in end-of-life care across Australia.
Results: The rural GPs' central role in end-of-life care was recognized by the majority of participants but multiple challenges were also identified. Some challenges were comparable to those found in urban settings but others were more pronounced, including resource limitations and lack of training. Inappropriate payment models discouraged GPs' involvement in some aspects of end-of-life care, such as case conferences and home visits. Compared to GPs in urban settings, those in rural/regional communities often reported closer doctor-patient relationships and better care integration and collaboration. These positive aspects of care could be further developed to enhance service provision. Our study highlighted the importance of regular interactions with other professionals and patients in providing end-of-life care, but many GPs and other stakeholders found such interactions more challenging than the more "technical" aspects of care.
Conclusions: Rural/regional GPs appear to be disproportionately affected by inappropriate payment models and limited resources, but may benefit from closer doctor-patient relationships and better care integration and collaboration relative to urban GPs. Systematic collection of empirical data on GP management at end-of-life is required to build on these strengths and address the challenges.
Objective: To improve understandings of the enablers and barriers to maintaining good quality of life for people dying, caring and grieving in rural areas.
Design and setting: In-depth interviews designed on participatory research principles were held with bereaved carers living in a small community in rural Tasmania. Participants had cared for someone until their death within the 3-year period prior.
Participants: Nineteen participants comprising 18 bereaved former carers and one person with a life-limiting illness, and all but four were over retirement age.
Study aim: To explore experiences of end-of-life care in a rural community.
Results: Participants discussed the challenges they experienced during end-of-life caring, including transport into the city for treatment, and access to basic and specialised services. However, they also reported positive aspects of formal and informal palliative care, and described experiences of personable, expert, flexible and innovative caregiving.
Conclusions: The rural location enabled personalised and innovative expressions of care. This research adds new insight into rural end-of-life palliation, as a complex intersection of supererogation, innovation and place-driven care.
Background: Growing evidence suggests that pediatric palliative care (PPC) teams influence the care received by children and young adults with chronic, life-limiting illnesses. Little is known about how PPC involvement affects advance care planning (ACP) and circumstances of death in pediatric populations with a wide range of diagnoses.
Objective: To determine the relationship between PPC involvement, ACP, and circumstances of death for pediatric patients.
Design: A retrospective chart review of 558 pediatric patients who died between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 was conducted. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the sample. A multivariable logistic regression was used to obtain associations between PPC involvement and ACP.
Setting: Large, multidisciplinary tertiary care center in a rural state.
Measurements: Data abstracted for each patient included the following: demographic information, diagnosis, location of primary unit, hospice involvement, goals of care (GOC), code status, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) completion, and location of death.
Results: Patients with PPC involvement were more likely to have had ACP addressed before death. After adjusting for covariates in the model, patients with PPC were more likely to have their GOC documented (odds ratio [OR] = 96.93), completion of POLST (OR = 24.06), do-not-resuscitate code status (OR = 7.71), and hospice involvement at the time of death (OR = 11.70) compared with those who did not receive PPC.
Conclusions: Pediatric patients are more likely to have ACP addressed if they have PPC involvement. Patients with chronic complex conditions are most likely to receive palliative care.
Aim: To develop and implement a region wide skills matrix for palliative care and district nurses in rural Victoria in order to identify and address individual learning needs and appropriate professional development strategies based on the Australian National Palliative Care Standards. This study is the first in a series of papers discussing and evaluating the development and implementation of a skills matrix. Future papers will report on participants’ data reporting.
Methods: The development and implementation of a skills matrix for palliative care nurses was based on using several evidence-based strategies involving four main stages. There were: stakeholder consultation, collaboration, consolidation and implementation. The initial stage of development of the matrix involved consultation with regional stakeholders to establish and refine the project objectives. The second stage involved collection of information from regional stakeholders; brainstorming and discussion of the technical skills required for palliative care and the cross over with district nursing. The third stage involved a facilitated process whereby action plans were devised and the final stage involved a plan for the survey dissemination and evaluation of the training needs. Other evidence-based strategies used were Benner’s theoretical model of clinical competence, the Australian National Palliative Care Standards and the triple C model of project implementation.
Results: This study reported on the development and implementation of a self-assessment of competencies skills matrix for nurses working in palliative care based on the Australian National Standards of palliative care used by services. The matrix included all the aspects covered by the Australian National Palliative Care Standards and mapped them to various competencies using Benner’s model ranging from novice to expert. The availability of a skills matrix tool to self-assess is important to keep track of the clinical competencies gained by palliative care nurses. Targeted educational interventions identified by the skills matrix have the potential to improve quality of care provided in the palliative care setting.
Conclusion: The successful development and implementation of the palliative skills matrix across the Gippsland region relied on using several evidence-based strategies to standardise the competencies across the palliative care setting in rural Victoria, Australia. Examples of these strategies included using Benner’s theoretical competency model, the Australian National Palliative Standards and the triple C model, which included stakeholders’ consultation, collaboration and consolidation.
For a growing number of persons with dementia (PWDs), advance care planning (ACP) can help families make important end-of-life (EOL) care decisions that reflect PWDs' values and preferences. The current exploratory study aimed to understand advance directive planning and decision making among PWDs and caregivers. A survey was conducted with a convenience sample of 47 ethnically diverse PWD caregivers recruited from rural health care facilities in Southwest Texas. Sixty-eight percent of PWDs and caregivers were Hispanic. The majority of PWDs had completed an advance directive (60%) and preferred equally shared decision making between family (including the PWD) and physicians (57%). Under a hypothetical EOL scenario for PWDs, caregivers chose comfort (40%) and palliative care treatment (55%) more than other goals and treatment options. In this scenario, Hispanic PWDs were less likely than non-Hispanic White counterparts to complete an advance directive (48% vs. 81%, p < 0.05) and to choose only pain and symptom management (46% vs. 81%, p < 0.05). Although the overall ACP rates among rural PWDs may be comparable to those for the general PWD population, ethnic differences exist. More culturally competent education efforts are needed to promote ACP among PWDs in culturally diverse rural communities.
This article presents qualitative data to explore the experience of farming family members faced with accidental or suicide death and understand how this is experienced within the farming context. Individual semistructured interviews were conducted with 25 members of Australian farming families bereaved by suicide or accidental death. Qualitative data was thematically analyzed. Three interconnected themes were identified: acceptance of risk, normalization of death, pragmatic behavior patterns and connection to place. Bereavement and reconstruction of meaning following suicide or accidental death for farming families is influenced by the cultural, social, geographical, and psychological contexts of farming families. This article challenges traditional conceptions of suicide and accidental death as necessarily experienced as “violent” or “traumatic,” bereavement as experienced similarly across western cultures, and the reaction to suicide or accidental death as one that challenges people’s understanding of their world and leaves them struggling to find a reason why the death occurred.
There are few studies on interment preferences and practices for people in remote and rural regions of developed countries. This mixed methods study in rural Australia collated data on funeral and interment practices with an ethnographic exploration of the post-death preferences of terminally-ill rural residents. In the region, between February 2015 and May 2016, 44% of decedents were cremated. Burial preferences reflected family traditions, generational connections to historic cemeteries, and the wish to instantiate belonging to people and place. Cremation provided the opportunity for ashes to be scattered at personally-significant places. Funeral planning was important for patients and family caregivers, and funerals are valued rural community rituals.
BACKGROUND: Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, causing a substantial economic burden on cancer suffers and their families. The aim of this study is to explore the prevalence, determinants and consequences of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) among urban and rural end-of-life (EOF) cancer patients in China.
METHODS: Using respondent-driven sampling and face-to-face interviews, field research was conducted with a specialist questionnaire. Data were collected on 792 cancer patients who died between June 2013 and June 2016 in China. The determinants of household catastrophic expenditure were identified by multivariate logistic regression.
FINDINGS: It is found that more than 80% of cancer patients received life-extending treatment. Extremely high rates of CHE were identified among EOL cancer patients, at 94.3% for urban families and 96.1% for rural families. After spending for health, 84.1% of urban and 91.1% rural EOL cancer patient households were impoverished, falling below the poverty line. For both urban and rural households, income was the most significant factor associated with catastrophic health expenditure (CHE). Health insurance did not adequately compensate for CHE. Rural families experienced higher CHE, lower levels of health care utilization, a different mix of health care access and higher rates of borrowing for out-of-pocket (OOP) health care expenditures than urban families. Both urban and rural households suffered long-term economic disadvantage due to CHE and borrowing for OOP medical care expenses.
CONCLUSIONS: EOL cancer patients experienced severe CHE, with families forced into poverty. With only about 1% of EOL cancer patients receiving palliative care, developing palliative care services and expanding the acceptance of palliative care in China is both urgent and essential. To help address impoverishment due to CHE, China should also develop targeted programs to reduce income inequality, especially rural-urban inequalities; increase access to health care; and accelerate health reform. Increasing the retirement age would provide households with more savings and wealth to withstand CHE.
Introduction: End of life care of terminally ill is a sensitive topic in our socio cultural ethos. In a country where Euthanasia policies are widely debated, dignified death is a desired form of death. Euthanasia literally means "good death". In India the debate still continues on practices related to euthanasia and its legalization until recently when the verdict on the passive euthanasia has been passed by the supreme court. In addition, lack of an effective palliative care system has led to complex situations towards the end of life. Globally, it is estimated that palliative care is needed in 40-60% of all deaths. However there is no training or facility to meet this demand.
Methodology: A focus group discussion (FGD) was carried out among 22 residents in a rural area of Tamilnadu to identify the social and cultural determinants of end of life care practices. A FGD guide was prepared and after an informed consent the study was undertaken. An in depth interview was carried out among a sub group of participants.
Results: The FGD and the IDI revealed several end of life practices in the rural areas such as Thalaikoothal, Feeding the ill with holy water and sand etc. The study also revealed the major determinants leading to such practices such as the social, and cultural beliefs in addition to economical and emotional factors.
Conclusion: Several factors determine the end of life decisions in a family ranging from economical to social and cultural factors. While we are examining these factors, it is important to strengthen the palliative care provision in the country by building capacity and integrating it in primary care.
Background: Little is known about the role of geographic access to inpatient palliative and end of life care (PEoLC) facilities in place of death and how geographic access varies by settlement (urban and rural). This study aims to fill this evidence gap.
Methods: Individual-level death data in 2014 (N = 430,467, aged 25 +) were extracted from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) death registry and linked to the ONS postcode directory file to derive settlement of the deceased. Drive times from patients’ place of residence to nearest inpatient PEoLC facilities were used as a proxy estimate of geographic access. A modified Poisson regression was used to examine the association between geographic access to PEoLC facilities and place of death, adjusting for patients’ socio-demographic and clinical characteristics. Two models were developed to evaluate the association between geographic access to inpatient PEoLC facilities and place of death. Model 1 compared access to hospice, for hospice deaths versus home deaths, and Model 2 compared access to hospitals, for hospital deaths versus home deaths. The magnitude of association was measured using adjusted prevalence ratios (APRs).
Results: We found an inverse association between drive time to hospice and hospice deaths (Model 1), with a dose–response relationship. Patients who lived more than 10 min away from inpatient PEoLC facilities in rural areas (Model 1: APR range 0.49–0.80; Model 2: APR range 0.79–0.98) and urban areas (Model 1: APR range 0.50–0.83; Model 2: APR range 0.98–0.99) were less likely to die there, compared to those who lived closer (i.e. = 10 min drive time). The effects were larger in rural areas compared to urban areas.
Conclusion: Geographic access to inpatient PEoLC facilities is associated with where people die, with a stronger association seen for patients who lived in rural areas. The findings highlight the need for the formulation of end of life care policies/strategies that consider differences in settlements types. Findings should feed into local end of life policies and strategies of both developed and developing countries to improve equity in health care delivery for those approaching the end of life.
Background: The quality of the dying experience among older adults should improve with a better understanding of the dying experience and its association with the place of death in Mainland China.
Objective: This study investigated the relationship between the dying experience and place of death among older Chinese adults in the context of an urban-rural bifurcated system.
Design: We used the end-of-life module data from the China Longitudinal Aging Social Survey conducted in 2014 and 2016 with an eligible sample of 352 decedents ages 60 and older. Facial expression and sadness at the end of life were indicators of the dying experience in the present study. We performed multiple regression models to examine the association between the place of death and dying experience after adjusting for an ecological array of factors at the individual, family, and community levels.
Results: The urban–rural differences in the association between facial expression at death and place of death were identified (interaction term: ß = 0.16, p = 0.004). Among the decedents with a rural residence status, dying in a hospital was associated with a more peaceful facial expression at death than dying at home (p < 0.001). Among the decedents with an urban residence status, the place of death was not significantly related to the dying experience.
Conclusion: Although home is perceived as a common place for death, the findings revealed that dying at home was less positive for rural older adults compared with dying in hospital. Bridging the gaps between urban and rural areas is necessary for the reform and construction of health care and long-term care systems in China.
Background: Therapeutic cannabis is being more widely used by patients to manage multiple symptoms, but the patterns of use in the palliative care population are not well defined.
Objective: The primary aim of this pilot study was to describe the use of cannabis among patients attending a palliative care clinic (PCC).
Design: The study was a retrospective chart review of patients seen at four different interval points during 2017 and 2018 in an ambulatory palliative care setting.
Setting/Subjects: The study was conducted at a 396-bed rural academic medical center in the PCC, where the majority of patients have oncological diseases.
Results: Clinicians saw 299 unique patients during the four one-month time periods reviewed. Eighty-three patients (27%) reported use of any form of cannabis. The most common reasons for cannabis use were pain (n = 49, 59%), anorexia (n = 16, 19%), insomnia (n = 14, 17%), nausea (n = 13, 16%), anxiety (n = 8, 10%), and depression (n = 5, 6%). Twenty-six patients (31%) used cannabis for more than one symptom. Among the 83 patients using cannabis, 60 (72%) were also prescribed opioids with 32% on immediate-release only and 25% on both immediate- and extended-release opioids. These 60 patients on opioids and cannabis represent 33% of all patients prescribed opioids in this clinic. Tetrahydrocannabinol was present in 25% of the 73 urine drug screens.
Conclusions: Our data show a significant minority of patients in a PCC use cannabis. Further research should focus on more detailed information about formulation use, methods of ingestion, perceived efficacy, side effects, cost, and standardization of clinical practices. Given the prevalence of cannabis use, further research into its efficacy, side effects, and safety is needed, including whether patients with prior/active substance use receive more or less benefit or harm from cannabis use.
Many patients with cancer live in rural areas and research is lacking on the efficacy of palliative care programs in rural community settings. This pilot study was conducted in a primarily rural setting where healthcare professionals delivered palliative care to 52 mostly lower income patients with a variety of cancers. They were assessed for physical, financial, psychosocial and overall symptom intensity at baseline and at three consequent assessments. This pilot study demonstrated the potential efficacy of an outpatient palliative care program in a mostly rural setting in the reduction of physical, psychosocial, and overall symptom intensity in patients with cancer.
OBJECTIVES: In Canada, the rural elderly population is increasing in size, as is their need for palliative care services in these settings. This analysis aims to identify awareness-associated barriers to delivering rural palliative care services, along with suggestions for improving service delivery from the perspective of local health care providers.
METHODS: A total of 40 semi-structured interviews with various formal and informal health care providers were conducted in four rural and/or remote Canadian communities with limited palliative care resources. Interview data were thematically coded using Penchansky and Thomas' five dimensions of access (i.e. availability, (geographic) accessibility, accommodation, acceptability and affordability). Saurman's recently added sixth dimension of access - awareness - was also identified while coding and subsequently became the primary focus of this analysis.
RESULTS: Identified barriers to palliative care awareness and suggestions on how to enhance this awareness, and ultimately palliative care delivery, corresponded with three key themes arising from the data: limited palliative care knowledge/education, communication and coordination. Participants recognized the need for more palliative care education, open lines of communication and better coordination of palliative care initiatives and local resources in their communities.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that identifying the barriers to palliative care awareness in rural communities may be foundational to addressing barriers to the other five dimensions of access. A thorough understanding of these three areas of awareness knowledge, communication and coordination, as well as the connections between them, may help enhance how rural palliative care is delivered in the future.
Increased mortality after spousal bereavement has been observed in many populations. Few studies have investigated the widowhood effect in a traditional culture where the economy is underdeveloped. The reasons for the widowhood effect and its gender dynamic are not well understood. In this study, we assessed whether the widowhood-associated excess mortality exists and differs by gender and living arrangement in rural China. We used a six-wave panel of data derived from rural people over 60 years old in the Chaohu region of China. Cox regression analyses suggest that there was a positive effect of spousal loss on mortality for older rural Chinese and this effect was gender different. Our findings also suggest that living with adult children after spousal loss played a protective role in reducing the risk of older men's death, though it tended to increase older men's mortality risk in general.
BACKGROUND: In rural communities, providing hospice care can be a challenge. Hospice personnel sometimes travel great distances to reach patients, resulting in difficulty maintaining access, quality, cost-effectiveness, and safety. In 1998, the University of Kansas Medical Center piloted the country's first TeleHospice (TH) service. At that time, challenges with broad adoption due to cost and attitudes regarding technology were noted. A second TH project was launched in early 2017 using newer technology; this article updates that ongoing implementation.
METHODS: The Organizational Change Manager was followed for the guided selection of the hospice partner. The University of Kansas Medical Center partnered with Hospice Services, Inc. (HSI), a leader in rural hospice care, providing services to 16 Kansas counties. Along with mobile tablets, a secure cloud-based videoconferencing solution was chosen for ease of use.
RESULTS: From August 2017 through January 2018, 218 TH videoconferencing encounters including 917 attendees occurred. Calls were made for direct patient care, family support, and administrative purposes. These TH calls have been shown to save HSI money, and initial reports suggest they may strengthen the communication and relationships between staff, patients, and the patient's family.
CONCLUSION: Finding innovative, cost-effective, and community-driven approaches such as TH are needed to continually advance hospice care. TeleHospice's potential to supplement and improve hospice services while reducing costs is significant, but continued research is needed to understand best fit within frontier hospices, to inform future urban applications, and to address reimbursement.
Background: Access to palliative care has been associated with improving quality of life and reducing the use of potentially aggressive end-of-life care. However, many challenges and barriers exist in providing palliative care to residents in northern and rural settings in Ontario, Canada.
Aim: The purpose of this study was to examine access to palliative care and associations with the use of end-of-life care in a decedent cohort of northern and southern, rural and urban, residents.
Design: Using linked administrative databases, residents were classified into geographic and rural categories. Regression methods were used to define use and associations of palliative and end-of-life care and death in acute care hospital.
Setting/Participants: A decedent cancer cohort of Ontario residents (2007-2012).
Results: Northern rural residents were less likely to receive palliative care (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.90, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.83-0.97). Those not receiving palliative care were more likely to receive potentially aggressive end-of-life care and die in an acute care hospital (adjusted OR = 1.20, 95% CI: 1.02-1.41).
Conclusions: Palliative care was significantly associated with reduced use of aggressive end-of-life care; however, disparities exist in rural locations, especially those in the north. Higher usage of emergency department (ED) and hospital resources at end of life in rural locations also reflects differing roles of rural community hospitals compared with urban hospitals. Improving access to palliative care in rural and northern locations is an important care issue and may reduce use of potentially aggressive end-of-life care.