Le respect de l’autonomie du patient est essentiel. Il peut rédiger des directives anticipées en vue d’une situation où il ne pourrait plus s’exprimer. Actuellement, peu de personnes les ont rédigées. Nous avons réalisé une étude sur la faisabilité de la mise en place systématique des directives anticipées chez des patients hémodialysés. Cette étude prospective monocentrique a été menée dans un centre d’hémodialyse ambulatoire en 4 étapes : un questionnaire remis aux soignants ; la sélection puis l’information des patients ; la rédaction assistée des directives anticipées par les patients intéressés ; l’évaluation des causes de non-participation. Les soignants connaissent mal le dispositif et ont des réticences : le manque de connaissances médicales du patient, l’angoisse générée par la discussion sur la fin de vie. Cinquante-six patients (51,6 %) ont été inclus et ont reçu les informations. Neuf d’entre eux ont souhaité rédiger leurs directives anticipées sur un formulaire adapté, huit les ont finalisées (7,4 % de la population initiale). La majorité souhaitait une limitation thérapeutique. Vingt-neuf patients ayant reçu l’information n’ont pas souhaité les rédiger, les raisons étant : ils se sentent bien ou pensent que leurs proches prendraient les bonnes décisions. Dix-huit patients sont sortis du centre pendant l’étude. Le développement des directives anticipées nécessite l’information et la formation des soignants, ainsi que l’accompagnement des patients. Peu de patients sont allés au bout de la démarche. La limite de la « compétence » du patient à décider pour lui est difficile à définir. Le rôle du médecin est central pour l’accompagner.
Background: The population of older adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is increasing and nephrologists need education on the principles of geriatrics and palliative care to effectively care for this population.
Objectives: Our objective was to develop and deliver a curriculum to interprofessional clinicians caring for older adults with CKD. The aim of this curriculum would be to improve knowledge of the principles of geriatrics and palliative care.
Design: We have previously developed a curriculum on geriatrics and palliative care targeted toward primary care teams. In this project, we used an interdisciplinary steering committee to modify the curriculum for nephrology teams.
Setting: This curriculum was delivered in a live grand rounds setting and was recorded and made available via online platform for virtual learning.
Participants: The 6-session curriculum was delivered to 611 live and online learners between January 2018 and April 2019, with more than half of the participants (n = 317) completing more than 1 session. Participants came from a variety of disciplines including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work.
Results: Participants had a high rate of agreement with the statement that the curriculum met learning objectives, with live participants having stronger agreement. Participants reported that the activity would change their practice behavior by calling palliative care earlier, as well as improving their communication skills.
Conclusion: Interprofessional collaboration can result in improved learning around the management of patients with CKD or end-stage kidney disease.
Background: End-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic heart failure (CHF) and chronic renal failure (CRF) are characterized by a high burden of daily symptoms that, irrespective of the primary organ failure, are widely shared.
Aims: To evaluate whether and to which extent symptom-based clusters of patients with end-stage COPD, CHF and CRF associate with patients’ health status, mobility, care dependency and life-sustaining treatment preferences.
Methods: 255 outpatients with a diagnosis of advanced COPD (n = 95), advanced CHF (n = 80) or CRF requiring dialysis (n = 80) were visited in their home environment and underwent a multidimensional assessment: clinical characteristics, symptom burden using Visual Analog Scale (VAS), health status questionnaires, timed “Up and Go” test, Care Dependency Scale and willingness to undergo mechanical ventilation or cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Three clusters were obtained applying K-means cluster analysis on symptoms’ severity assessed via VAS. Cluster characteristics were compared using non-parametric tests.
Results: Cluster 1 patients, with the least symptom burden, had a better quality of life, lower care dependency and were more willing to accept life-sustaining treatments than others. Cluster 2, with a high presence and severity of dyspnea, fatigue, cough, muscle weakness and mood problems, and Cluster 3, with the highest occurrence and severity of symptoms, reported similar care dependency and life-sustaining treatment preferences, while Cluster 3 reported the worst physical health status.
Discussion: Symptom-based clusters identify patients with different health needs and might help to develop palliative care programs.
Conclusion: Clustering by symptoms identifies patients with different health status, care dependency and life-sustaining treatment preferences.
Background: Palliative care is an important branch of nursing care. Patients with end-stage renal disease, owing to the chronic nature of the disease, will require palliative care, with nursing staff being responsible for delivering these services. Understanding the priorities of this type of care from the perspective of patients and nursing staff can be helpful in delivering it effectively and efficiently. This study was conducted to determine and compare palliative care priorities from the perspectives of patients and nursing staff in a haemodialysis ward in Iran.
Method: This research is a cross-sectional and descriptive-analytic study with a sample size equal to the research population (322 patients and 45 nursing staff) in a haemodialysis ward in Kerman, Iran. Data were collected using two self-administered questionnaires that included demographic information and palliative care priorities. Data were analysed using SPSS19 with central tendency and dispersion indicators (frequency, percentage, mean and standard deviation, Mann–Whitney U-test, Kruskal–Wallis, independent t, ANOVA and one-way ANOVA). The significance level was P<0.05.
Results: The mean total score (± standard deviation) of palliative care priorities from the patients' and nurses' perspective was 268.83±3.90 and 271.11±29.76, respectively, which was categorised for both groups as ‘high priority’. From the patients' perspective, the highest mean score was obtained from ‘supporting patient with insurance concerns’, while the lowest mean score was derived from ‘managing diarrhoea’. The nurses also believed that ‘managing and relief of pain’ had the highest priority and ‘bloating’ had the lowest priority in palliative care. From the perspective of both groups, holistic support and relief of physical disorders had the highest and lowest mean scores, respectively. Further, the mean scores of palliative care priorities did not differ significantly from the perspective of patients and nursing staff in the haemodialysis ward (P=0.68).
Conclusion: Palliative care is a high priority for both haemodialysis patients and nursing staff and both groups prioritised it similarly. As palliative care has not yet been initiated formally across all treatment centres in Iran, it is necessary to prioritise its inclusion within the renal and haemodialysis wards in Iran and provide further training or education for nurses to ensure they are equipped to deliver effective and informed palliative care.
Background: Renal failure is a chronic disease that can seriously affect quality of life (QOL). Health-Related QOL represents the physical, psychological, and social domains of health that are influenced by a person's experience, beliefs, expectations, and perceptions. The aim of this study is to explore QOL of Stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients on maintenance hemodialysis (MHD) in South India.
Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional observational study conducted among patients with CKD undergoing MHD at 11 major centers in South India. Demographic data were collected using a predesigned questionnaire. QOL index was measured using the 26-item WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire, and statistical analysis was carried out using the SPSS version 24 (Academy of Medical Sciences, Kannur, Kerala, India).
Results: Five hundred and three patients undergoing MHD were enrolled, and the following QOL scores were recorded: social relationship (51.65 ± 21.03), environmental (46.91 ± 19.29), psychological (41.07 ± 20.30), and physical health (40.17 ± 17.05). QOL of patients declined with aging in all four domains. Being male, younger, educated, and unmarried appeared to have a favorable effect on several aspects of patients' QOL.
Conclusion: The evaluation of QOL in CKD patients undergoing hemodialysis showed that it was relatively compromised. Because the patients had a chronic, progressive irreversible disease, the most affected was physical domain. Age, education, employment, and marital status were found to affect one or more domains of QOL. Age and education are significant independent variables; as the age increases, QOL decreases, and higher the education better the QOL.
Ethical issues relating to end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) care are increasingly being discussed by clinicians and ethicists but are still infrequently considered at a policy level or in the education and training of health care professionals. In most lower-income countries, access to kidney replacement therapies such as dialysis is not universal, leading to overt or implicit rationing of resources and potential exclusion from care of those who are unable to sustain out-of-pocket payments. These circumstances create significant inequities in access to ESKD care within and between countries and impose emotional and moral burdens on patients, families, and health care workers involved in decision-making and provision of care. End-of-life decision-making in the context of ESKD care in all countries may also create ethical dilemmas for policy makers, professionals, patients, and their families. This review outlines several ethical implications of the complex challenges that arise in the management of ESKD care around the world. We argue that more work is required to develop the ethics of ESKD care, so as to provide ethical guidance in decision-making and education and training for professionals that will support ethical practice in delivery of ESKD care. We briefly review steps that may be required to accomplish this goal, discussing potential barriers and strategies for success.
A key component of treatment for all people with advanced kidney disease is supportive care, which aims to improve quality of life and can be provided alongside therapies intended to prolong life, such as dialysis. This article addresses the key considerations of supportive care as part of integrated end-stage kidney disease care, with particular attention paid to programs in low- and middle-income countries. Supportive care should be an integrated component of care for patients with advanced chronic kidney disease, patients receiving kidney replacement therapy (KRT), and patients receiving non-KRT conservative care. Five themes are identified: improving information on prognosis and support, developing context-specific evidence, establishing appropriate metrics for monitoring care, clearly communicating the role of supportive care, and integrating supportive care into existing health care infrastructures. This report explores some general aspects of these 5 domains, before exploring their consequences in 4 health care situations/settings: in people approaching end-stage kidney disease in high-income countries and in low- and middle-income countries, and in people discontinuing KRT in high-income countries and in low- and middle-income countries.
This study aimed to evaluate the validity and reliability of the Persian version of Death Anxiety Scale-Extended (DAS-E). A total of 507 patients with end-stage renal disease completed the DAS-E. The factor structure of the scale was evaluated using exploratory factor analysis with an oblique rotation and confirmatory factor analysis. The content and construct validity of the DAS-E were assessed. Average variance extracted, maximum shared squared variance, and average shared squared variance were estimated to assess discriminant and convergent validity. Reliability was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient (a = .839 and .831), composite reliability (CR = .845 and .832), Theta ( = .893 and .867), and McDonald Omega (O = .796 and .743). The analysis indicated a two-factor solution. Reliability and discriminant validity of the factors was established. Findings revealed that the present scale was a valid and reliable instrument that can be used in assessment of death anxiety in Iranian patients with end-stage renal disease.
BACKGROUND: Advance Care Planning (ACP) is essential for preparation for end-of-life. It is a means through which patients clarify their treatment wishes. ACP is a patient-centered, dynamic process involving patients, their families, and caregivers. It is designed to 1) clarify goals of care, 2) increase patient agency over their care and treatments, and 3) help prepare for death. ACP is an active process; the end-stage renal disease (ESRD) illness trajectory creates health circumstances that necessitate that caregivers assess and nurture patient readiness for ACP discussions. Effective ACP enhances patient engagement and quality of life resulting in better quality of care.
MAIN BODY: Despite these benefits, ACP is not consistently completed. Clinical, technical, and social barriers result in key challenges to quality care. First, ACP requires caregivers to have end-of-life conversations that they lack the training to perform and often find difficult. Second, electronic health record (EHR) tools do not enable the efficient exchange of requisite psychosocial information such as treatment burden, patient preferences, health beliefs, priorities, and understanding of prognosis. This results in a lack of information available to enable patients and their families to understand the impact of illness and treatment options. Third, culture plays a vital role in end-of-life conversations. Social barriers include circumstances when a patient's cultural beliefs or value system conflicts with the caregiver's beliefs. Caregivers describe this disconnect as a key barrier to ACP. Consistent ACP is integral to quality patient-centered care and social workers' training and clinical roles uniquely position them to support ACP.
CONCLUSION: In this debate, we detail the known barriers to completing ACP for ESRD patients, and we describe its benefits. We detail how social workers, in particular, can support health outcomes by promoting the health information exchange that occurs during these sensitive conversations with patients, their family, and care team members. We aim to inform clinical social workers of this opportunity to enhance quality care by engaging in ACP. We describe research to help further elucidate barriers, and how researchers and caregivers can design and deliver interventions that support ACP to address this persistent challenge to quality end-of-life care.
End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) is a life-limiting condition for which hospice and palliative care are not routinely provided to patients and families. While the ESRD mortality rate is close to 25%, patients on dialysis are half as likely to receive hospice services than patients with other life-limiting diagnoses. Nephrologists and dialysis social workers receive little training to effectively lead patients with ESRD and their families through the stages of dying and the completion of advance care planning. The lack of professional training, a need for greater commitment to advanced care planning from dialysis corporations, and reimbursement problems for hospice care, all contribute to low rates of hospice use within the ESRD population. An ESRD advance care training program for social workers is described that was developed as a part of a larger research project designed to increase advance care planning and referrals for hospice for those with ESRD. The goals were to help social workers become better advocates for patients and families, appreciate cultural, spiritual, racial and ethnic differences, and understand the ethical and legal issues in advance care planning. The challenges that emerged included high staff turnover and a paucity of corporate commitment to training.
Background: Goals of care (GOC) conversations are critical to advance care planning but occur infrequently in nephrology. National workshops have improved trainee comfort with initiating GOC conversations but lack interface with palliative subspecialists and can incur travel-related costs. We developed an educational intervention focused on GOC conversations for nephrology trainees that incorporated into routine schedules and offered feedback from palliative subspecialists.
Objective: To explore barriers and facilitators to discussing GOC and uncover perceptions of GOC-related behavior change post-intervention.
Design: Qualitative study.
Setting/Subjects: Sixteen nephrology trainees at an academic medical center.
Measurements: Analyses of semistructured interviews occurred in phases: (1) isolation of quotes; (2) development of a coding system; and (3) creation of a framework of interrelationships between quotes using an inductive/deductive approach.
Results: We captured the following themes: (1) prior knowledge (ability to define GOC, knowledge of communication frameworks and prognostic data, exposure to outpatient GOC conversations; (2) attitudes related to GOC conversations (responsibility, comfort, therapeutic alliance, patient preparedness, partnership with care teams); and (3) potential change in behaviors (increased likelihood to initiate GOC conversations early, more accurate identification of patients appropriate for a GOC conversation).
Conclusions: Prior knowledge of, exposure to, and attitudes toward advance care planning were key determinants of a nephrology trainees' ability to initiate timely GOC conversations. After our intervention, trainees reported increased comfort with and likelihood to initiate GOC conversations and an improved ability to identify appropriate candidates. Our intervention may be a novel, feasible way to coach nephrologists to initiate timely GOC conversations.
Background: Fluid management is a clinical challenge in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), especially among those who opted for conservative treatment. We initiated a comprehensive program of psychosocial interventions.
Objectives: To study the impact of this psychoeducational (Appropriate amount of intake, Self-efficacy, and Adherence [ASA]) program on symptom burden and acute admission rates related to fluid overload (FO) in this group of elderly ESRD patients attending renal palliative care outpatient clinic under our division.
Methods: All elderly (age >60 years) patients who were followed in our renal palliative clinic had one or more acute admissions related to FO during the first three months were identified and invited to participate in this program. The palliative care nurse assessed each pair of patient/caregiver before doctor consultation, documented the symptom burden by the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale, provided symptom advice with use of pamphlets, monitored fluid and drug compliance, and provided psychosocial-spiritual support. The patient symptom score, body weight (BW), and three month acute admission episodes were compared before and after psychoeducation interventions by paired t test.
Results: Data from 138 patients were analyzed. Of them, edema, shortness of breath, and insomnia occurred in 131 (95%), 67 (49 %), and 44 (32%) patients, respectively. A total of 125 patients (90.6%) had poor fluid/diet compliance, whereas 59 patients (42.7%) had poor drug compliance. The BW decreased significantly from 57.1 (12.8) kg at baseline to 52.5 (13.6) kg after three months of the ASA program. The acute admission rate related to FO dropped significantly from 7.6 episodes/patient/year to 6.4 episodes/patient/year.
Conclusion: Our data demonstrated that the ASA program could improve patient symptoms and reduce acute hospital admissions, and thus improve the overall patient wellbeing and reduce health care utilization. Further studies are required to delineate the efficacy of different components in this ASA program and how to enhance its delivery.
Rationale & Objective: Older patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) utilize intensive care at the end-of-life and die in a hospital more frequently than patients with cancer or heart disease. Advance care planning (ACP) can help align treatment with patient preferences and improve patient-centered care, yet ACP quality and experiences among older patients with CKD and their care partners remain incompletely understood, particularly among the non–dialysis-dependent population.
Study Design: n-person, interviewer-administered surveys of patients 70 years and older with non–dialysis-dependent CKD stage 4 or 5 and their self-identified care partners.
Setting & Participants: 42 participants (31 patients, 11 care partners) at two clinical sites in Greater Boston
Outcomes: Completion of advance directives, and self-reported perceptions, preferences, and experiences of ACP.
Analytical Approach: Descriptive analysis of patient and care partner surveys. McNemar’s test analysis to compare patient and care partner responses.
Results: Most patients had written advance directives (64%) and surrogate decision makers (81%). Although patients reported positive perceptions and high trust in their clinicians’ judgment, few (16%) had actually discussed preferences for life-sustaining treatment with their nephrologists. Few ACP discussions included components reflective of high-quality ACP: 16% of patients had been asked about their values concerning end-of-life care and 7% had discussed issues of decision-making capacity and consent to care should their health decline. When presented with two hypothetical scenarios (stroke/heart attack, or dementia), nearly all patients and care partners reported a preference for comfort care over delaying death. Care partners were more likely than patients to report that they had experienced discussion components reflective of high-quality ACP with the clinical team.
Limitations: Single metropolitan area; most patients did not identify a care partner, non-response bias and small sample size.
Conclusions: Patients often believed that their clinicians understood their end-of-life wishes despite not having engaged in ACP conversations that would make those wishes known. Improving clinical ACP communication may result in end-of-life treatment that better aligns with patient goals.
Background: Lack of awareness about the life-limiting nature of renal failure is a significant barrier to palliative care for older adults with end-stage renal disease.
Objective: To train nephrologists to use the best case/worst case (BC/WC) communication tool to improve shared decision making about dialysis initiation for older patients with limited life expectancy.
Design: This is a pre-/postinterventional pilot study.
Setting/Subjects: There were 16 nephrologists and 30 patients of age 70 years and older with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) <20 mL/min per 1.73 m2 in outpatient nephrology clinics, in Madison, WI.
Measurements: Performance of tool elements, content of communication about dialysis, shared decision making, acceptability of the intervention, decisions to pursue dialysis, and palliative care referrals were measured.
Results: Fifteen of 16 nephrologists achieved competence performing the BC/WC tool with standardized patients, executing at least 14 of 19 items. Nine nephrologists met with 30 patients who consented to audio record their clinic visit. Before training, clinic visits focused on laboratory results and preparation for dialysis. After training, nephrologists noted that declining kidney function was “bad news,” presented dialysis and “no dialysis” as treatment options, and elicited patient preferences. Observer-measured shared decision-making (OPTION 5) scores improved from a median of 20/100 (interquartile range [IQR] 15–35) before training to 58/100 (IQR 55–65). Patients whose nephrologist used the BC/WC tool were less likely to make a decision to initiate dialysis and were more likely to be referred to palliative care.
Conclusions: Nephrologists can learn to use the BC/WC tool with older patients to improve shared decision making about dialysis, which may increase access to palliative care.
INTRODUCTION: Multiple organ failure has been considered a contraindication for noninvasive ventilation (NIV).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We described the outcome of Do-not-Intubate (DNI) patients with acute respiratory failure, treated with NIV and, subsequently, necessitating renal replacement therapy (RRT).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Seven patients admitted to our Respiratory Intensive Care Unit, developed Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) during NIV treatment and received RRT for 12.8 ± 8 days together with NIV. All the patients but one, discontinued renal support because they regained a satisfactory urinary output; nevertheless mortality rate was high (71%).
CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that RRT could be feasible together with NIV. RRT was associated with an acute improvement in renal function but did not modify the mortality rate.
BACKGROUND: Increasing numbers of older adults are living with kidney disease. For those with comorbidities, conservative management of end-stage kidney disease is a viable option: dialysis may afford limited or no survival benefit, and perceived burdens may outweigh benefits. Conservative management focuses on: maintaining remaining kidney function; symptom management; and quality of life. Common symptoms in conservatively managed kidney disease include: fatigue; anorexia; nausea and vomiting; pain and pruritis. Chronic disease is associated with biographical disruption and a loss of sense of self. Coping strategies are shaped by illness perceptions, but little is known of illness perceptions of people living with conservatively managed kidney disease. This study aimed to explore the experience, impact and understanding of conservatively managed end-stage kidney disease among older adults.
METHODS: Secondary analysis of qualitative interviews analysed using thematic analysis. Twenty people with conservatively managed end-stage kidney disease were recruited from 3 UK renal units: median age was 82 (range, 69-95); 9 women, 11 men.
RESULTS: Participants described the invisibility and intangibility of kidney disease, and challenges in attributing symptoms to the disease. They described a spectre-like presence, sapping their energy and holding them down. For some, it was hard to differentiate symptoms of the illness from characteristics of aging, resulting in challenges in illness attribution, and disconnectedness from the illness.
CONCLUSIONS: Participants described challenges in attributing their symptoms to kidney disease which negatively impacted upon their wellbeing, and ability to accept an adjusted sense of self. Understanding these challenges is critical in the management conditions such as end-stage kidney disease where prognosis may be poor, and where an increase in symptom distress may suggest a marked deterioration in their condition, or a change in phase of illness. Clinical services need to recognize the illness experience (alongside more symptom led approaches), including the invisibility, intangibility, and disconnectedness, and address this through specific interventions focused on improving clinical assessment, communication and education, alongside peer and professional support.
The prevalence of end-stage kidney disease is increasing, particularly among older people and those with multiple comorbidities. Typically, patients who develop end-stage kidney disease receive renal replacement therapies such as dialysis; however, this treatment can significantly affect quality of life and may not prolong life in older patients. Therefore, some patients may choose not to undergo dialysis and instead choose conservative management, which involves a palliative approach that focuses on maintaining quality of life and advance care planning. This article details the steps involved in a conservative kidney management pathway for end-stage kidney disease, including symptom management and advance care planning. It also discusses the importance of a palliative approach for patients receiving dialysis.
Background and Objectives: The Acute Kidney Outreach to Reduce Deterioration and Death trial was a large pilot study for a cluster-randomized trial of acute kidney injury (AKI) outreach.
Methods: An observational control (before) phase was conducted in two teaching hospitals (9 miles apart) and their respective catchment areas. In the intervention (after) phase, a working-hours AKI outreach service operated for the intervention hospital/area for 20 weeks, with the other site acting as a control. All AKI alerts in both hospital and community patients were screened for inclusion. Major exclusion criteria were patients who were at the end of life, unlikely to benefit from outreach, lacking mental capacity or already referred to the renal team. The intervention arm included a model of escalation of renal care to AKI patients, depending on AKI stage. The 30-day primary outcome was a combination of death, or deterioration, as shown by any need for dialysis or progression in AKI stage. A total of 1762 adult patients were recruited; 744 at the intervention site during the after phase.
Results: A median of 3.0 non-medication recommendations and 0.5 medication-related recommendations per patient were made by the outreach team a median of 15.7 h after the AKI alert. Relatively low rates of the primary outcomes of death within 30 days (11–15%) or requirement for dialysis (0.4–3.7%) were seen across all four groups. In an exploratory analysis, at the intervention hospital during the after phase, there was an odds ratio for the combined primary outcome of 0.73 (95% confidence interval 0.42–1.26; P = 0.26).
Conclusions: An AKI outreach service can provide standardized specialist care to those with AKI across a healthcare economy. Trials assessing AKI outreach may benefit from focusing on those patients with ‘mid-range’ prognosis, where nephrological intervention could have the most impact.
BACKGROUND: End-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients have significant symptom burden. Reduced provider awareness of symptoms contributes to underutilization of symptom management resources.
METHOD: We hypothesized that improved nephrologist awareness of symptoms leads to symptom improvement. In this prospective, multicenter interventional study, 53 (age >65) ESRD inpatients underwent symptom assessment using the modified Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) at admission and 1-week post-discharge. Physicians caring for the enrollees were asked if they felt their patients would die within the year, and then sequentially randomized to receive the results of the baseline survey (group 1) or to not receive the results (group 2).
RESULTS: Fifty-two patients completed the study; 1 died. Baseline characteristics were compared. For 70% of the total cohort, physicians reported that they would not be surprised if their patient died within a year. There was no difference in baseline scores of the patients between the 2 physician groups. Severity ratings were compared between in-hospital and post discharge scores and between physicians who received the results versus those that did not. Total ESAS scores improved more in group 1 (12.9) than in group 2 (9.2; p = 0.04). Among individual symptoms, there was greater improvement in pain control (p = 0.02), and nominal improvement in itching (p = 0.03) in group 1 as compared to group 2. There were 3 palliative care consults.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings reinforce the high symptom burden prevalent in older ESRD patients. The improvement in total scores, and individual symptoms of pain and itching in group 1 indicates better symptom control when physician awareness is increased. Residual symptoms post hospitalization and low utilization of palliative care resources are suggestive of a missed opportunity by nephrologists to address the high symptom burden at the inpatient encounter, which is selective for sick patients and/or indication of inadequacy of dialysis to control these symptoms.
BACKGROUND: Despite complex illness trajectories and a high symptom burden, palliative care has been sub-optimal for patients with end-stage kidney disease and hemodialysis treatment who have a high rate of hospitalization and intensive care towards end of life. There is a growing awareness that further development of palliative care is required to meet the needs of these patients and their family members. In this process, it is important to explore healthcare professionals' views on provision of care. The aim of this study was therefore to describe nurses' and physicians' perspectives on end-of-life and palliative care of patients treated with maintenance hemodialysis.
METHODS: Four focus group interviews were conducted with renal nurses (17) and physicians (5) in Sweden. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze data.
RESULTS: Participants were committed to giving the best possible care to their patients, but there were challenges and barriers to providing quality palliative care in nephrology settings. Professionals described palliative care as end-of-life care associated with hemodialysis withdrawal or palliative dialysis, but also identified care needs and possibilities that are in line with an earlier integrated palliative approach. This was perceived as complex from an organizational point of view. Participants identified challenges related to coordination of care and different perspectives on care responsibilities that impacted symptom management and patients' quality of life. Communication issues relating to the provision of palliative care were revealed where the hemodialysis setting was regarded as an impediment, and personal and professional experiences, beliefs and knowledge were considered of major importance.
CONCLUSIONS: Nurses and physicians identified a need for the improvement of both late and earlier palliative care approaches. The results highlighted a requirement for and possibilities of training, counselling and support of health care professionals in the dialysis context. Further, multi-professional palliative care collaborations should be developed to improve the coordination and organization of end-of-life and palliative care of patients and their family members. A climate allowing conversations about advance care planning throughout the illness trajectory may facilitate the gradual integration of palliative care alongside life-prolonging treatment for improved support of patients and families.