Background: This case report describes a patient with known idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, being managed with transdermal rotigotine, whose refractory nausea and vomiting was successfully controlled with subcutaneous levomepromazine. No drug-induced extrapyramidal side effects emerged.
Case presentation: A patient was found to have a locally advanced serous carcinoma, causing secondary bowel obstruction. Furthermore, due to compromised oral access, the patient’s oral antiparkinsonian medications for motor control were converted to transdermal rotigotine. Unfortunately, the patient’s nausea and vomiting was refractory to a number of recommended antiemetic options.
Case management: Low dose levomepromazine was administered on a, ‘when required’ basis, via subcutaneous injection.
Case outcome: After the first dose of levomepromazine, the patient’s nausea and vomiting completely subsided and no extrapyramidal side effects were observed. This was confirmed by daily assessments, revealing no worsening of the motor symptoms associated with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.
Conclusions: The pharmacology of rotigotine and levomepromazine appear complementary and may allow for the simultaneous use of both drugs, with favourable outcomes. This case report highlights that rotigotine may afford protection against antipsychotic induced extrapyramidal side effects, while preserving antiemetic effects. Such combinations may have a role in the end-of-life management of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.
Objectives: Methotrimeprazine is commonly used for the management of nausea but never tested formally against other drugs used in this setting. The aim was to demonstrate superior antiemetic efficacy.
Design: Double-blind, randomised, controlled trial of methotrimeprazine versus haloperidol.
Setting 11 palliative care sites in Australia.
Participants: Participants were >18 years, had cancer, an average nausea score of =3/10 and able to tolerate oral medications. Ineligible patients had acute nausea related to treatment, nausea for which a specific antiemetic was indicated, were about to undergo a procedure or had received either of the study drugs or a change in glucocorticoid dose within the previous 48 hours.
Interventions: Based on previous studies, haloperidol was used as the control. Participants were randomised to encapsulated methotrimeprazine 6·25 mg or haloperidol 1·5 mg one time or two times per day and assessed every 24 hours for 72 hours.
Main outcome measures: A =two-point reduction in nausea score at 72 hours from baseline. Secondary outcome measures were as follows: complete response at 72 hours (end nausea score less than 3), response at 24 and 48 hours, vomiting episodes, use of rescue antiemetics, harms and global impression of change.
Results: Response to treatment at 72 hours was 75% (44/59) in the haloperidol (H) arm and 63% (36/57) in the methotrimeprazine (M) arm with no difference between groups (intention-to-treat analysis). Complete response rates were 56% (H) and 51% (M). In the per protocol analysis, there was no difference in response rates: (85% (44/52) (H) and 74% (36/49) (M). Complete per protocol response rates were 64% (H) and 59% (M). Toxicity worse than baseline was minimal with a trend towards greater sedation in the methotrimeprazine arm.
Conclusion: This study did not demonstrate any difference in response rate between methotrimeprazine and haloperidol in the control of nausea.
Nausea and vomiting in palliative care are commonly experienced symptoms, and the aetiology is often multifactorial. The most common causes are impaired gastric emptying, chemical causes (eg medication) and visceral causes (eg constipation). Close attention should be paid to the clinical features which may suggest the likely cause. Antiemetic therapy should be guided by the likely aetiology, although in practice, the clinical picture is often complex, and so regular reassessment is essential for adequate symptom control.
Background: Cannabis is increasingly used by persons at end of life to ameliorate symptoms such as pain, spasticity, anorexia, or anxiety. Cannabis hyperemesis is a distressing adverse effect of chronic use and may cause significant morbidity. Unfortunately, the clinical presentation of this syndrome may be subtle in a person with complex medical issues or disability. Providers must remain vigilant for possible variations in presentation in these populations.
Aim: To assess literature on cannabis hyperemesis and present unique considerations for clinical assessment and treatment for patients at end of life.
Design: Initial literature scoping yielded limited evidence on the subject in the setting of chronic disease and disability. A case of cannabis hyperemesis in a person with advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is presented to illustrate challenges in diagnosis and management in this setting. A narrative synthesis of current literature on assessment and management and special considerations for evaluation and treatment for patients under palliative care was performed.
Results: Several unique considerations for the diagnosis and management of cannabis hyperemesis in palliative care patients are highlighted in the case presented, including: (1) Symptoms may possibly be abolished through decrease rather than complete abstinence from cannabis, (2) Frequent hot baths may not be present in patients with physical impairments in activities of daily living, and (3) Management of primary symptoms (pain, spasticity, nausea, and anxiety) in the end-of-life care patient must be considered to maximize comfort.
Conclusion: The presentation of cannabis hyperemesis may be atypical in palliative care patients due to disability. More work is needed to improve risk stratification for patients using cannabis for palliative care.
The evaluation and management of nausea in patients near the end of life can be more challenging than that of nausea in patients undergoing antineoplastic therapies. Unlike in the oncology setting in which nausea is primarily managed using antiemetic regimens that have been developed with the neuropharmacology and emetogenic potentials of chemotherapy agents in mind, many patients receiving end-of-life care have nausea of multifactorial etiology. Patients also may be older with reduced physiologic ability to metabolize and clear drugs. Therefore, typical antiemetics in regimens initially selected for oncology patients may be ineffective. In this article, the prevalence, manifestation, and pathophysiology of nausea experienced by patients near and at the end of life will be reviewed, with a focus on pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions that have been found to effectively manage this symptom in this patient population.
BACKGROUND: Approved almost 15 years ago for use in the chemotherapy setting, palonosetron, a 2nd generation 5-hydroxtryptamine 3 receptor antagonist (5-HT3 RA), has demonstrated efficacy in preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. However, its utility in the prophylaxis and treatment of radiation-induced nausea and vomiting (RINV) has yet to be evaluated. In this pilot study, we investigated the rates of control in RINV in patients with pre-existing emesis.
METHODS: Patients with pre-existing emesis undergoing palliative radiotherapy to sites with emetic risk were prescribed palonosetron 0.5 mg before the start of radiation treatment, and every other day until completion of treatment. Patients were followed up in acute (day 1 of treatment to day 1 after treatment) and delayed phases (days 2-10 after treatment). Prophylaxis and rescue (PR) was defined as a decrease in anti-emetic use, or episodes of nausea and/or vomiting from baseline. Complete prophylaxis (CP) was defined as no increase in anti-emetic use, or episodes of nausea and/or vomiting. Secondary endpoints included control of nausea and quality of life (QOL), as assessed with the Functional Living Index-Emesis and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 15 Palliative.
RESULTS: Fourteen patients were enrolled. Rates of control were higher in the acute phase (n=14) for nausea (PR =42.9%, CP =42.9%) and vomiting (PR =21.4%, CP =71.4%) compared to the delayed phase (n=13) for nausea (PR =42.9%, CP =7.7%) and vomiting (PR =15.4%, CP =53.8%).
CONCLUSIONS: Palonosetron appears to be safe and patients with pre-existing emesis receiving palliative radiotherapy. More studies are needed to investigate its efficacy in this patient population.
BACKGROUND: Nausea and vomiting are commonly experienced by cancer patients, and can be assessed by the Functional Life Index-Emesis (FLIE) instrument which employs a three-day recall period. However, it is unknown whether patients' responses to the FLIE better correlate with the average or the worst symptom severity of the recall period, or the severity of an individual day.
METHODS: Patients receiving emetogenic radiotherapy for painful bone metastases who were enrolled in one of three trials for anti-emetic medications (ondansetron, aprepitant/granisetron, or palonosetron) completed the FLIE at baseline, and days 3, 5, 7, or 10 during treatment and follow-up. The concordance correlation coefficient (rc) was calculated between FLIE overall nausea and vomiting and daily nausea, vomiting, and quality of life (QoL) using the average responses of the 3-day recall period and with each of the three days' responses.
RESULTS: Responses from eighty-nine patients who experienced nausea or vomiting were analysed. The highest concordance for FLIE nausea was with the 3-day average [during treatment: rc =0.698, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.495, 0.829; follow-up: rc =0.821, 95% CI: 0.711, 0.892]. FLIE vomiting had the highest concordance with worst day vomiting (during treatment, rc =0.310, 95% CI: 0.194, 0.417) or two day-prior vomiting (follow-up, rc =0.902, 95% CI: 0.832, 0.944). FLIE nausea and vomiting had inconsistent concordances with daily assessments of QoL.
CONCLUSIONS: Responses to the FLIE questionnaire are most representative of average nausea severity. Larger cohorts to validate these findings are warranted to address the lack of power in this present study and to confirm the wording and justification of a three-day recall period for the FLIE.
BACKGROUND: Olanzapine as an antiemetic represents a new use of an antipsychotic drug. People with cancer may experience nausea and vomiting whilst receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or whilst in the palliative phase of illness.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy and safety of olanzapine when used as an antiemetic in the prevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting related to cancer in adults.
SEARCH METHODS: We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE and Embase for published data on 20th September 2017, as well as ClinicalTrials.gov and World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform for unpublished trials. We checked reference lists, and contacted experts in the field and study authors.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of olanzapine versus any comparator with or without adjunct therapies for the prevention or treatment, or both, of nausea or vomiting in people with cancer aged 18 years or older, in any setting, of any duration, with at least 10 participants per treatment arm.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We used standard Cochrane methodology. We used GRADE to assess quality of evidence for each main outcome. We extracted data for absence of nausea or vomiting and frequency of serious adverse events as primary outcomes. We extracted data for patient perception of treatment, other adverse events, somnolence and fatigue, attrition, nausea or vomiting severity, breakthrough nausea and vomiting, rescue antiemetic use, and nausea and vomiting as secondary outcomes at specified time points.
MAIN RESULTS: We included 14 RCTs (1917 participants) from high-, middle- and low-income countries, representing over 24 different cancers. Thirteen studies were in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Oral olanzapine was administered during highly emetogenic (HEC) or moderately emetogenic (MEC) chemotherapy (12 studies); chemoradiotherapy (one study); or palliation (one study). Eight studies await classification and 13 are ongoing.The main comparison was olanzapine versus placebo/no treatment. Other comparisons were olanzapine versus NK1 antagonist, prokinetic, 5-HT3 antagonist or dexamethasone.We assessed all but one study as having one or more domains that were at high risk of bias. Eight RCTs with fewer than 50 participants per treatment arm, and 10 RCTs with issues related to blinding, were at high risk of bias. We downgraded GRADE assessments due to imprecision, inconsistency and study limitations. Olanzapine versus placebo/no treatment Primary outcomes Olanzapine probably doubles the likelihood of no nausea or vomiting during chemotherapy from 25% to 50% (risk ratio (RR) 1.98, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.59 to 2.47; 561 participants; 3 studies; solid tumours; HEC or MEC therapy; moderate-quality evidence) when added to standard therapy. Number needed to treat for additional beneficial outcome (NNTB) was 5 (95% CI 3.3 - 6.6).It is uncertain if olanzapine increases the risk of serious adverse events (absolute risk difference 0.7% more, 95% CI 0.2 to 5.2) (RR 2.46, 95% CI 0.48 to 12.55; 7 studies, 889 participants, low-quality evidence).Secondary outcomes. Four studies reported patient perception of treatment. One study (48 participants) reported no difference in patient preference. Four reported quality of life but data were insufficient for meta-analysis. Olanzapine may increase other adverse events (RR 1.71, 95% CI 0.99 to 2.96; 332 participants; 4 studies; low-quality evidence) and probably increases somnolence and fatigue compared to no treatment or placebo (RR 2.33, 95% CI 1.30 to 4.18; anticipated absolute risk 8.2% more, 95% CI 1.9 to 18.8; 464 participants; 5 studies; moderate-quality evidence). Olanzapine probably does not affect all-cause attrition (RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.57 to 1.73; 943 participants; 8 studies; I² = 0%). We are uncertain if olanzapine increases attrition due to adverse events (RR 3.00, 95% CI 0.13 to 70.16; 422 participants; 6 studies). No participants withdrew due to lack of efficacy. We are uncertain if olanzapine reduces breakthrough nausea and vomiting (RR 0.38, 95% CI 0.10 to 1.47; 501 participants; 2 studies; I² = 54%) compared to placebo or no treatment. No studies reported 50% reduction in severity of nausea or vomiting, use of rescue antiemetics, or attrition.We are uncertain of olanzapine's efficacy in reducing acute nausea or vomiting. Olanzapine probably reduces delayed nausea (RR 1.71, 95% CI 1.40 to 2.09; 585 participants; 3 studies) and vomiting (RR 1.28, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.42; 702 participants; 5 studies).Subgroup analysis: 5 mg versus 10 mg. Planned subgroup analyses found that it is unclear if 5 mg is as effective an antiemetic as 10 mg. There is insufficient evidence to exclude the possibility that 5 mg may confer a lower risk of somnolence and fatigue than 10 mg.Other comparisons One study (20 participants) compared olanzapine versus NK1 antagonists. We observed no difference in any reported outcomes.One study (112 participants) compared olanzapine versus a prokinetic (metoclopramide), reporting that olanzapine may increase freedom from overall nausea (RR 2.95, 95% CI 1.73 to 5.02) and overall vomiting (RR 3.03, 95% CI 1.78 to 5.14). One study (62 participants) examined olanzapine versus 5-HT3 antagonists, reporting olanzapine may increase the likelihood of 50% or greater reduction in nausea or vomiting at 48 hours (RR 1.82, 95% CI 1.11 to 2.97) and 24 hours (RR 1.36, 95% CI 0.80 to 2.34). One study (229 participants) compared olanzapine versus dexamethasone, reporting that olanzapine may reduce overall nausea (RR 1.73, 95% CI 1.37 to 2.18), overall vomiting (RR 1.27, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.48), delayed nausea (RR 1.66, 95% CI 1.33 to 2.08) and delayed vomiting (RR 1.25, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.45).
AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There is moderate-quality evidence that oral olanzapine probably increases the likelihood of not being nauseous or vomiting during chemotherapy from 25% to 50% in adults with solid tumours, in addition to standard therapy, compared to placebo or no treatment. There is uncertainty whether it increases serious adverse events. It may increase the likelihood of other adverse events, probably increasing somnolence and fatigue. There is uncertainty about relative benefits and harms of 5 mg versus 10 mg. We identified only RCTs describing oral administration. The findings of this review cannot be extrapolated to provide evidence about the efficacy and safety of any injectable form (intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous) of olanzapine.
BACKGROUND: Opioids are the foundation of treatment for cancer pain but can cause side-effects, one of the most common being nausea and vomiting, which can impair quality of life.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the evidence for the management of opioid-induced nausea and vomiting. This systematic review was undertaken as part of an update of the European Association for Palliative Care's opioid guidelines.
DESIGN: Searches of MEDLINE (1966-2017) and EMBASE (1980-2017) were done. Key eligibility criteria were: randomized controlled trials conducted in patients with cancer. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment Development and Evaluations system was applied to formulate recommendations.
RESULTS: Fifteen studies were eligible (1524 patients). The studies were grouped as follows: opioid switching (n = 8); the use of antiemetics to treat opioid-induced nausea and vomiting (n = 4); and change of route of administration of the opioid (n = 3). Three recommendations were formulated: A weak recommendation for switching from morphine to oxycodone in cancer patients with nausea (quality D); a weak recommendation for switching from tramadol to either codeine or hydrocodone for pain in cancer patients with nausea (quality D); and a weak recommendation for switching from morphine/oxycodone to methadone using the three-day switch method in patients with increasing pain considered untreatable with further opioid titration and/or with opioid-related side effects (quality C).
CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review can make only weak recommendations for the management of opioid-induced nausea and vomiting. There remains a need for high-quality studies before strong recommendations on the management of opioid-induced nausea and vomiting can be made.
The patients often present to palliative care with intractable nausea and vomiting. This may reduce the effectiveness of oral drugs and significantly affects the quality of life of these patients. Despite multiple drugs available for treatment, it is often difficult to control the symptoms. Olanzapine is an atypical antipsychotic and acts on multiple receptors and may help in treating vomiting in a patient with advanced malignancy. We report a case of gallbladder carcinoma who presented to us with intractable vomiting which was not relieved with a combination of traditional antiemetics but showed marked improvement with olanzapine.
Purpose: This study aimed at expanding the knowledge of nausea in patients with advanced cancer by elucidating (a) the prevalences of patients having nausea, experiencing nausea as a problem, and having a need for help with their nausea, respectively, (b) determining variables associated with nausea, and (c) investigating the relation between nausea and the need for help regarding nausea.
Methods: In 2004–2006, the EORTC QLQ-C30 and the Three-Levels-of-Needs Questionnaire (3LNQ) were mailed to 2364 patients with advanced cancer who had been in contact with one of the 54 hospital departments within the past year. Further information was collected from medical records.
Results: Patient-response rate was 61%. Twenty-two percent reported having had some degree of nausea within the past week, with a mean nausea score of 10.4 and a two-item combined nausea and vomiting score of 7.5 (0–100, 100 = “very much”). Factors associated with nausea on the multivariate level were contact type (inpatient/outpatient) and treatment status (receiving ongoing oncologic treatment yes/no).
“Nausea intensity” and “nausea problem burden” showed acceptable abilities to distinguish between patients having or not having an unmet need for help regarding nausea with areas under the curve (AUCs) of 0.81 and 0.82, respectively.
Conclusions: Around one in four patients with advanced cancer reported nausea within the past week, highest in patients who were inpatients or undergoing active oncologic treatment. Almost all patients reporting nausea on the EORTC QLQ-C30 experienced this to be a problem, and the 3LNQ can therefore be restricted to cases where additional details are needed.
BACKGROUND: The provision of pediatric palliative care in Asia Pacific varies between countries and availability of essential medications for symptoms at the end of life in this region is unclear.
OBJECTIVE: To determine medications available and used in the management of six symptoms at the end of life among pediatric palliative care practitioners in Asia Pacific. To identify alternative pharmacological strategies for these six symptoms if the oral route was no longer possible and injections are refused.
DESIGN AND SETTING: An online survey of all Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network (APHN) members was carried out to identify medications used for six symptoms (pain, dyspnea, excessive respiratory secretions, nausea/vomiting, restlessness, seizures) in dying children. Two scenarios were of interest: (1) hours to days before death and (2) when injectables were declined or refused.
RESULTS: There were 54 responses from 18 countries. Majority (63.0%) of respondents were hospital based. About half of all respondents were from specialist palliative care services and 55.6% were from high-income countries. All respondents had access to essential analgesics. Several perceived that there were no available drugs locally to treat the five other commonly encountered symptoms. There was a wide variation in preferred drugs for treating each symptom that went beyond differences in drug availability or formulations.
CONCLUSION: Future studies are needed to explore barriers to medication access and possible knowledge gaps among service providers in the region, so that advocacy and education endeavors by the APHN may be optimized.
BACKGROUND: Patients with cancer frequently experience physical and psychological distress that can worsen their quality of life.
OBJECTIVES: We assessed the outcomes of an 8-week mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) intervention, Walkabout: Looking In, Looking Out, on symptoms, sleep quality, health-related quality of life, sense of coherence (SOC), and spirituality in outpatients with cancer.
METHODS: A 1-group, pre-post intervention design with repeated measures at baseline, week 4, and week 8.
RESULTS: Despite a small pilot sample (n = 18), we found large effect sizes and statistically significant improvements from week 1 to week 8 in depression, the comprehensibility subscale of the SOC, and each subscale of spirituality, that is, peace, meaning, and faith. There were no significant changes in physical functioning, pain, sleep, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, and appetite.
CONCLUSIONS: The MBAT intervention, Walkabout, seems to meet key palliative care goals including improvement in emotional well-being, comprehensibility, and meaning making among outpatients with cancer.
Symptom management is an important part of both palliative care and end-of-life care. This article will examine the recent research evidence about drugs commonly used for symptom management in adult patients receiving palliative care. In particular, the management of symptoms where recent palliative care-based evidence has changed recommended practice will be reviewed. This includes: breathlessness, delirium, nausea and vomiting in bowel obstruction, opioid-induced constipation and upper respiratory tract secretions. For each symptom, a review of recent pharmacological evidence has been undertaken, with emphasis on potential important changes to physicians' practice.
BACKGROUND: Residential care homes (RCHs) are a common place of death. Previous studies have reported a high prevalence of symptoms such as pain and shortness of breath among residents in the last week of life.
AIM: To explore the presence of symptoms and symptom relief, and identify factors associated with symptom relief of pain, nausea, anxiety, and shortness of breath among RCH residents in end-of-life care.
METHOD: The data consisted of all expected deaths at RCHs registered in the Swedish Register of Palliative Care (n=22 855). Univariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted.
RESULTS: Pain was reported as the most frequent of the four symptoms (68.8%) and the one that most often had been totally relieved (84.7%) by care professionals. Factors associated with relief from at least one symptom were sex, age, time in the RCH, use of a validated pain or symptom assessment scale, documented end-of-life discussions with physicians for both the residents and family members, consultations with other units, diseases other than cancer as cause of death, presence of ulcers, assessment of oral health, and prescribed pro re nata injections for pain, nausea, and anxiety.
CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that use of a validated pain assessment scale, assessment of oral health, and prescribed pro re nata injections for pain, nausea, and anxiety might offer a way to improve symptom relief. These clinical tools and medications should be implemented in the care of the dying in RCHs, and controlled trials should be undertaken to prove the effect.
The prevalence of nausea and vomiting in patients with advanced cancer varies, but it generally increases towards the end of life. Nausea and vomiting can be distressing and debilitating for patients, and can affect quality of life significantly. This article discusses the assessment of nausea and vomiting, current understanding of the emetic pathways, and pharmacological management of nausea and vomiting in patients with advanced cancer at the end of life.
L'ouvrage présente, dans une première partie, l'évolution naturelle de la maladie, les conséquences de la maladie sur les relations soignants - malade - famille. Puis des conseils pratiques sont proposés pour les patients et familles. Une dernière partie aborde l'accompagnement en soins palliatifs et les lois relatives à la fin de vie 2005 et 2016 notamment.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care is a rapidly evolving area of emergency medicine. With an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 baby boomers per day reaching retirement age, emergency departments (EDs) are treating more patients with chronic and serious disease. Palliative care offers comprehensive care for patients with advanced medical illness, aims to alleviate suffering and improve quality of life, and plays an important role in caring for these patients in the ED.
OBJECTIVES: We sought to increase the emergency physician's knowledge of and comfort with symptom control in palliative and hospice patients.
DISCUSSION: Having the skills to deliver efficient and appropriate palliative and hospice care is imperative for emergency physicians. Palliative care should be considered in any patient suffering from symptoms of a life-limiting illness, whereas hospice care should be considered in the patient with likely <6 months left to live. Palliative care is appropriate earlier in the course of disease, and is appropriate when the practitioner would not be surprised if the patient died in the next 2 years ("The Surprise Question"). This article discusses management in the ED of pain, nausea, dyspnea, agitation, and oral secretions in patients appropriate for hospice and palliative care.
CONCLUSION: The need for palliative and hospice care in the ED is increasing, requiring that emergency physicians be familiar with palliative and hospice care and competent in the delivery of rapid symptom management in patients with severe and life-limiting disease.
Importance: Early palliative care integration for cancer patients is now touted as the optimal care model, yet significant barriers often prevent its implementation. A perceived barrier, especially for pediatric oncology patients, is the notion that patients and their families may not need or want palliative care involvement early in the disease trajectory.
Objective: To determine the perception of symptom burden early in treatment and assess attitudes toward early integration of palliative care in pediatric oncology patient-parent pairs.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Novel but pretested survey tools were administered to 129 patient-parent dyads of hospital-based pediatric oncology ambulatory clinics and inpatient units between September 2011 and January 2015. All patient participants were aged between 10 and 17 years and were diagnosed as having an oncologic condition 1 month to 1 year before enrollment. Both the patient and the parent in the dyad spoke English, and all participating parents provided written informed consent. A convenience sample was used for selection, with participants screened when otherwise presenting at a participating site. A total of 280 eligible participants were approached for study inclusion, 258 of whom were enrolled in the study (92.1% positive response-rate).
Main Outcomes and Measures: Degree of perceived suffering from early symptom-related causes, attitudes toward early palliative care integration, and patient-parent concordance. Statistical analysis included descriptive statistics, calculation of concordance, McNemar test results, and Cochran-Armitage trend test results.
Results: Of the 129 patients in the dyads, 68 were boys, and 61 girls; of the 129 parents, 15 were men, and 114 women. Patients reported the following symptoms in the first month of cancer therapy: nausea (n = 109; 84.5%), loss of appetite (n = 97; 75.2%), pain (n = 96; 74.4%), anxiety (n = 77; 59.7%), constipation (n = 69; 53.5%), depression (n = 64; 49.6%), and diarrhea (n = 52; 40.3%). A large proportion of those reporting suffering indicated substantial suffering severity from specific symptoms (ie, a great deal or a lot) including nausea, 52.3% (57 of 109), loss of appetite, 50.5% (49 of 97), constipation 30.4% (21 of 69), pain 30.2% (29 of 96), anxiety 28.6% (22 of 77), depression 28.1% (18 of 64), and diarrhea 23.1% (12 of 52). Few children and parents expressed opposition to early palliative care involvement (2 [1.6%] and 8 [6.2%]) or perceived any detrimental effects on their relationship with their oncologist (6 [4.7%] and 5 [3.9%]), loss of hope (3 [2.3%] and 10 [7.8%]), or therapy interference (3 [2.3%] and 2 [1.6%], respectively). Intradyad concordance was low overall: 26% to 29% for exact concordance and 40% to 69% for agreement within 1 response category. Significant differences in patient-parent attitudes toward aspects of early palliative care included child participants being more likely than their parents (40.3% [n = 52] vs 17.8% [n = 23]) to indicate that palliative care would have been helpful for treating their symptoms (P < .001).
Conclusions and Relevance: Pediatric oncology patients experience a high degree of symptom-related suffering early in cancer therapy, and very few patients or parents in this study expressed negative attitudes toward early palliative care. Our findings suggest that pediatric oncology patients and families might benefit from, and are not a barrier to, early palliative care integration in oncology.