BACKGROUND: Nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNA) have a crucial role in 24/7 continuity of palliative care for many vulnerable patients and families, however, their perspective has been largely omitted in reported barriers to palliative care.
AIM: To describe barriers to ideal palliative care that are specific to nurses and CNAs working in all care settings.
METHODS: A cross-sectional, online survey was distributed to members of the Dutch Nurses' Association.
FINDINGS: Almost 50% of the participating 2377 nurses and CNAs experienced more than five barriers to ideal palliative care in their work situation; nurses and CNAs employed in regional hospitals, mental healthcare and nursing home settings encountered more barriers than those working in other settings.
CONCLUSION: The three most common barriers were: lack of proactive care planning, lack of internal consultation possibilities and lack of assessment of care recipients' preferences and needs for a seamless transition to another setting.
BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to gain insight into the experience of time of terminal patients with cancer. Experience of time is relevant in palliative care in both policy and practice. On a policy level, the Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY), the most used outcome measure for cost-effectiveness analysis in healthcare, assumes time to be a linear and additive variable, which is one of the reasons that its applicability in palliative care is questioned. On a practice level, a better understanding of the experience of time of patients with limited time left, could help to recognize if and how these patients can have a more meaningful use of time. The main focus of this study was to discover whether time perception of these patients in their last months of life had changed as compared to earlier periods of time in their lives in good physical health. The pace of time and time dominance (comparison of past, present and future) were investigated.
METHODS: In several hospices and palliative care units in the Netherlands, twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted with terminal patients with cancer.
RESULTS: Time perception at the end of life had changed for most participants. They all lived on a day-to-day basis in the terminal phase, independent of their way of life in the healthy phase. Furthermore, the experienced duration of a day turned out to be very different between patients, but also between days, depending on daily activities. Besides, for most patients for whom the future was the dominant period of time in the healthy phase, the dominant period of time in the terminal phase had become the past.
CONCLUSIONS: Time perception of terminal patients with cancer differed from the time perception in their relatively healthy phase of life. This suggests that the LY part of the QALY is not comparable for all phases of life.
Background: Home-based care networks differ in size and composition, but little is known about the characteristics of care networks for those nearing the end of their lives. This study aimed to identify different types of home-based care networks of community-dwelling older adults in the Netherlands and to assess the association between care network type and the health status and socio-demographic characteristics of care recipients.
Methods/design: We used data from participants of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (2001–2013) with chronic diseases or functional limitations who died within 12 months of their last interview and received home based personal and/or household care (n = 146). Latent Class Analysis was used to model distinct end-of-life care networks among this pooled cross-section of older people whose characteristics imply care needs. The Akaike information criterion was used to determine the optimal model. Associations between network type and care recipient characteristics were explored using conditional inference trees.
Results: We identified four types of care networks; a partner network (19%) in which care was mainly provided by partners, with little care from private caregivers or professionals, a mixed network (25%) in which care was provided by a combination of children, professionals and/or other family members, a private network (15%) in which only privately paid care was provided, and a professional network (40%) in which care was mainly provided by publicly paid professionals, sometimes with additional care from family or privately paid caregivers. Care networks near the end of life showed similar characteristics to those identified for older people more generally, but care seemed to be more intensive in the last year of life compared to the years preceding it. End-of-life care networks were mostly related to age, educational level and partner status. Formal care substitutes informal care whenever there is no partner or child present and able to provide care.
Conclusion: Our findings indicate that personal and household care can be quite intensive in the last year of life, especially for partner caregivers. To prevent caregiver burden, it is important that professionals make sure partner caregivers receive adequate and timely support to cope with the care situation.
The majority of Dutch physicians feel pressure when dealing with a request for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (EAS). This study aimed to explore the content of this pressure as experienced by general practitioners (GP). We conducted semistructured in-depth interviews with 15 Dutch GPs, focusing on actual cases. The interviews were transcribed and analysed with use of the framework method. Six categories of pressure GPs experienced in dealing with EAS requests were revealed: (1) emotional blackmail, (2) control and direction by others, (3) doubts about fulfilling the criteria, (4) counterpressure by patient's relatives, (5) time pressure around referred patients and (6) organisational pressure. We conclude that the pressure can be attributable to the patient-physician relationship and/or the relationship between the physician and the patient's relative(s), the inherent complexity of the decision itself and the circumstances under which the decision has to be made. To prevent physicians to cross their personal boundaries in dealing with EAS request all these different sources of pressure will have to be taken into account.
BACKGROUND: The oligometastatic paradigm suggests that some patients with a limited number of metastases might be cured if all lesions are eradicated. Evidence from randomised controlled trials to support this paradigm is scarce. We aimed to assess the effect of stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) on survival, oncological outcomes, toxicity, and quality of life in patients with a controlled primary tumour and one to five oligometastatic lesions.
METHODS: This randomised, open-label phase 2 study was done at 10 hospitals in Canada, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Australia. Patients aged 18 or older with a controlled primary tumour and one to five metastatic lesions, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group score of 0-1, and a life expectancy of at least 6 months were eligible. After stratifying by the number of metastases (1-3 vs 4-5), we randomly assigned patients (1:2) to receive either palliative standard of care treatments alone (control group), or standard of care plus SABR to all metastatic lesions (SABR group), using a computer-generated randomisation list with permuted blocks of nine. Neither patients nor physicians were masked to treatment allocation. The primary endpoint was overall survival. We used a randomised phase 2 screening design with a two-sided a of 0·20 (wherein p<0·20 designates a positive trial). All analyses were intention to treat. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01446744.
FINDINGS: 99 patients were randomised between Feb 10, 2012, and Aug 30, 2016. Of 99 patients, 33 (33%) were assigned to the control group and 66 (67%) to the SABR group. Two (3%) patients in the SABR group did not receive allocated treatment and withdrew from the trial; two (6%) patients in the control group also withdrew from the trial. Median follow-up was 25 months (IQR 19-54) in the control group versus 26 months (23-37) in the SABR group. Median overall survival was 28 months (95% CI 19-33) in the control group versus 41 months (26-not reached) in the SABR group (hazard ratio 0·57, 95% CI 0·30-1·10; p=0·090). Adverse events of grade 2 or worse occurred in three (9%) of 33 controls and 19 (29%) of 66 patients in the SABR group (p=0·026), an absolute increase of 20% (95% CI 5-34). Treatment-related deaths occurred in three (4·5%) of 66 patients after SABR, compared with none in the control group.
INTERPRETATION: SABR was associated with an improvement in overall survival, meeting the primary endpoint of this trial, but three (4·5%) of 66 patients in the SABR group had treatment-related death. Phase 3 trials are needed to conclusively show an overall survival benefit, and to determine the maximum number of metastatic lesions wherein SABR provides a benefit.
FUNDING: Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and London Regional Cancer Program Catalyst Grant.
OBJECTIVES: This study examined trajectories of emotional functioning in three domains (depressive symptoms, emotional and social loneliness) for individuals who experienced spousal bereavement, and investigated cross-domain adaptation. We hypothesized that emotional difficulties after bereavement would be more detectable in emotional loneliness than depressive symptoms or social loneliness.
METHOD: Using latent class growth analysis, we modelled changes in depressive symptoms, emotional loneliness and social loneliness from 12 years pre- to 12 years post-bereavement on data from 686 older adults to identify trajectories indicating adaptive and maladaptive functioning in each domain.
RESULTS: Most participants reported depressive symptoms below the clinically relevant threshold by showing a resilient (15.5%) or a slightly elevated (53.5%) trajectory post-bereavement. One-third (31%) reported clinically relevant depressive symptoms. More than half of the sample reported emotional loneliness post-bereavement, varying form prolonged (17%), increasing and prolonged (28.3%), and chronically high (8.9%) levels. Remaining participants displayed resilience (13.5%) or recovery (32.3%). Social loneliness showed four trajectories: very low and resilient (43.3%), low and resilient (27.5%), increasing (20.2%), and chronically high (9%) levels. One third of participants maintained adaptive, whereas 12% displayed maladaptive, functioning across all domains post-bereavement.
DISCUSSION: An increase in emotional loneliness was the most commonly observed change after spousal bereavement. This highlights the central role of emotional loneliness in depression after bereavement.
OBJECTIVE: To examine perceptions and experiences regarding providing spiritual care at the end of life of elderly care physicians practising in nursing homes in the Netherlands, and factors associated with spiritual care provision.
METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was sent to a representative sample of 642 elderly care physicians requesting information about their last patient who died and the spiritual care they provided. We compared their general perception of spiritual care with spiritual and other items abstracted from the literature and variables associated with the physicians' provision of spiritual care. Self-reported reasons for providing spiritual care were analysed with qualitative content analysis.
RESULTS: The response rate was 47.2%. Almost half (48.4%) provided spiritual end-of-life care to the last resident they cared for. Half (51.8%) identified all 15 spiritual items, but 95.4% also included psychosocial items in their perception of spirituality and 49.1% included other items. Physicians who included more non-spiritual items reported more often that they provided spiritual care, as did more religious physicians and those with additional training in palliative care. Reasons for providing spiritual care included a request by the resident or the relatives, resident's religiousness, fear of dying and involvement of a healthcare chaplain.
CONCLUSION: Most physicians perceived spirituality as a broad concept and this increased self-reported spiritual caregiving. Religious physicians and those trained in palliative care may experience fewer barriers to providing spiritual care. Additional training in reflecting upon the physician's own perception of spirituality and training in multidisciplinary spiritual caregiving may contribute to the quality of end-of-life care for nursing home residents.
BACKGROUND: Family members do not have an official position in the practice of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide (EAS) in the Netherlands according to statutory regulations and related guidelines. However, recent empirical findings on the influence of family members on EAS decision-making raise practical and ethical questions. Therefore, the aim of this review is to explore how family members are involved in the Dutch practice of EAS according to empirical research, and to map out themes that could serve as a starting point for further empirical and ethical inquiry.
METHODS: A systematic mixed studies review was performed. The databases Pubmed, Embase, PsycInfo, and Emcare were searched to identify empirical studies describing any aspect of the involvement of family members before, during and after EAS in the Netherlands from 1980 till 2018. Thematic analysis was chosen as method to synthesize the quantitative and qualitative studies.
RESULTS: Sixty-six studies were identified. Only 14 studies had family members themselves as study participants. Four themes emerged from the thematic analysis. 1) Family-related reasons (not) to request EAS. 2) Roles and responsibilities of family members during EAS decision-making and performance. 3) Families' experiences and grief after EAS. 4) Family and 'the good euthanasia death' according to Dutch physicians.
CONCLUSION: Family members seem to be active participants in EAS decision-making, which goes hand in hand with ambivalent feelings and experiences. Considerations about family members and the social context appear to be very important for patients and physicians when they request or grant a request for EAS. Although further empirical research is needed to assess the depth and generalizability of the results, this review provides a new perspective on EAS decision-making and challenges the Dutch ethical-legal framework of EAS. Euthanasia decision-making is typically framed in the patient-physician dyad, while a patient-physician-family triad seems more appropriate to describe what happens in clinical practice. This perspective raises questions about the interpretation of autonomy, the origins of suffering underlying requests for EAS, and the responsibilities of physicians during EAS decision-making.
BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to evaluate the implementation process of a multidisciplinary approach for potential organ donors in the emergency department (ED) in order to incorporate organ donation into their end-of-life care plans.
METHODS: A new multidisciplinary approach was implemented in six hospitals in the Netherlands between January 2016 and January 2018. The approach was introduced during staff meetings in the ED, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and neurology department. When patients with a devastating brain injury (DBI) had a futile prognosis in the ED, without contra indications for organ donation, an ICU admission was considered. Every ICU admission to incorporate organ donation into end-of-life care was systematically evaluated with the involved physicians using a standardized questionnaire.
RESULTS: In total, 55 potential organ donors were admitted to the ICU to incorporate organ donation into end-of-life care. Twenty-seven families consented to donation and 20 successful organ donations were performed. Twenty-nine percent of the total pool of organ donors in these hospitals were admitted to the ICU for organ donation.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with a DBI and futile medical prognosis in the ED are an important proportion of the total number of donors. The implementation of a multidisciplinary approach is feasible and could lead to better identification of potential donors in the ED.
BACKGROUND: Euthanasia or assisted suicide (EAS) for psychiatric disorders, legal in some countries, remains controversial. Personality disorders are common in psychiatric EAS. They often cause a sense of irremediable suffering and engender complex patient-clinician interactions, both of which could complicate EAS evaluations.
METHODS: We conducted a directed-content analysis of all psychiatric EAS cases involving personality and related disorders published by the Dutch regional euthanasia review committees (N = 74, from 2011 to October 2017).
RESULTS: Most patients were women (76%, n = 52), often with long, complex clinical histories: 62% had physical comorbidities, 97% had at least one, and 70% had two or more psychiatric comorbidities. They often had a history of suicide attempts (47%), self-harming behavior (27%), and trauma (36%). In 46%, a previous EAS request had been refused. Past psychiatric treatments varied: e.g. hospitalization and psychotherapy were not tried in 27% and 28%, respectively. In 50%, the physician managing their EAS were new to them, a third (36%) did not have a treating psychiatrist at the time of EAS request, and most physicians performing EAS were non-psychiatrists (70%) relying on cross-sectional psychiatric evaluations focusing on EAS eligibility, not treatment. Physicians evaluating such patients appear to be especially emotionally affected compared with when personality disorders are not present.
CONCLUSIONS: The EAS evaluation of persons with personality disorders may be challenging and emotionally complex for their evaluators who are often non-psychiatrists. These factors could influence the interpretation of EAS requirements of irremediability, raising issues that merit further discussion and research.
BACKGROUND: The medical-ethical dilemmas related to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EAS) in psychiatric patients are highly relevant in an international context. EAS in psychiatric patients appears to become more frequent in the Netherlands. However, little is known about the experiences of psychiatrists with this practice. This study aims to estimate the incidence of EAS (requests) in psychiatric practice in The Netherlands and to describe the characteristics of psychiatric patients requesting EAS, the decision-making process and outcomes of these requests.
METHODS: In the context of the third evaluation of the Dutch Euthanasia Act, a cross-sectional study was performed between May and September 2016. A questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 500 Dutch psychiatrists. Of the 425 eligible psychiatrists 49% responded. Frequencies of EAS and EAS requests were estimated. Detailed information was asked about the most recent case in which psychiatrists granted and/or refused an EAS request, if any.
RESULTS: The total number of psychiatric patients explicitly requesting for EAS was estimated to be between 1100 and 1150 for all psychiatrists in a one year period from 2015 to 2016. An estimated 60 to 70 patients received EAS in this period. Nine psychiatrists described a case in which they granted an EAS request from a psychiatric patient. Five of these nine patients had a mood disorder. Three patients had somatic comorbidity. Main reasons to request EAS were 'depressive feelings' and 'suffering without prospect of improvement'. Sixty-six psychiatrists described a case in which they refused an EAS request. 59% of these patients had a personality disorder and 19% had somatic comorbidity. Main reasons to request EAS were 'depressive feelings' and 'desperate situations in several areas of life'. Most requests were refused because the due care criteria were not met.
CONCLUSIONS: Although the incidence of EAS in psychiatric patients increased over the past two decades, this practice remains relatively rare. This is probably due to the complexity of assessing the due care criteria in case of psychiatric suffering. Training and support may enable psychiatrists to address this sensitive issue in their work better.
BACKGROUND: Recently, euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) in patients with psychiatric disorders, dementia, or an accumulation of health problems has taken a prominent place in the public debate. However, limited is known about this practice. The purpose of this study was threefold: to estimate the frequency of requesting and receiving EAS among people with (also) a psychiatric disorder, dementia, or an accumulation of health problems; to explore reasons for physicians to grant or refuse a request; and to describe differences in characteristics, including the presence of psychiatric disorders, dementia, and accumulation of health problems, between patients who did and did not request EAS and between patients whose request was or was not granted.
METHODS: A nationwide cross-sectional survey study was performed. A stratified sample of death certificates of patients who died between 1 August and 1 December 2015 was drawn from the central death registry of Statistics Netherlands. Questionnaires were sent to the certifying physician (n = 9351, response 78%). Only deceased patients aged = 17 years and who died a non-sudden death were included in the analyses (n = 5361).
RESULTS: The frequency of euthanasia requests among deceased people who died non-suddenly and with (also) a psychiatric disorder (11.4%), dementia (2.1%), or an accumulation of health problems (8.0%) varied. Factors positively associated with requesting euthanasia were age (< 80 years), ethnicity (Dutch/Western), cause of death (cancer), attending physician (general practitioner), and involvement of a pain specialist or psychiatrist. Cause of death (neurological disorders, another cause) and attending physician (general practitioner) were also positively associated with receiving euthanasia. Psychiatric disorders, dementia, and/or an accumulation of health problems were negatively associated with both requesting and receiving euthanasia.
CONCLUSIONS: EAS in deceased patients with psychiatric disorders, dementia, and/or an accumulation of health problems is relatively rare. Partly, this can be explained by the belief that the due care criteria cannot be met. Another explanation is that patients with these conditions are less likely to request EAS.
OBJECTIVES: To examine family caregivers' experiences with end-of-life care for nursing home residents with dementia and associations with the residents dying peacefully.
DESIGN: A secondary data analysis of family caregiver data collected in the observational Dutch End of Life in Dementia (DEOLD) study between 2007 and 2010.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Data were collected at 34 Dutch nursing homes (2799 beds) representing the nation. We included 252 reports from bereaved family members of nursing home residents with dementia.
MEASURES: The primary outcome was dying peacefully, assessed by family members using an item from the Quality of Dying in Long-term Care instrument. Unpleasant experiences with end-of-life care were investigated using open-ended questions. Overall satisfaction with end-of-life care was assessed with the End-of-Life Satisfaction With Care (EOLD-SWC) scale, and families' appraisal of decision making was measured with the Decision Satisfaction Inventory. Associations were investigated with multilevel linear regression analyses using generalized estimating equations.
RESULTS: Families' reports of unpleasant experiences translated into 2 themes: neglect and lack of respect. Neglect involved facing inaccessibility, disinterest, or discontinuity of relations, and negligence in tailored care and information. Lack of respect involved perceptions of being purposefully disregarded, an insensitive approach towards resident and family, noncompliance with agreements, and violations of privacy. Unpleasant experiences with end-of-life care were negatively associated with families' perceptions of the resident dying peacefully. Families' assessment of their relative dying peacefully was positively associated with satisfaction with end-of-life care and decision making.
CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS: Families' reports of unpleasant experiences with end-of-life care may inform practice to improve perceived quality of dying of their loved ones. Humane and compassionate care and attention from physicians and other staff for resident and family may facilitate recollections of a peaceful death.
BACKGROUND: The Needs Assessment Tool: Progressive Disease - Heart Failure (NAT:PD-HF) was developed to identify and triage palliative care needs in patients with chronic heart failure. A Dutch version is currently lacking.
AIMS: The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of a Dutch NAT:PD-HF in chronic heart failure outpatients; and to gain preliminary data regarding the effect of the NAT:PD-HF on palliative care referral, symptoms, health status, care dependency, caregiver burden and advance directives.
METHODS: A mixed methods study including 23 outpatients with advanced chronic heart failure and 20 family caregivers was performed. Nurses conducted patient consultations using a Dutch translation of the NAT:PD-HF and rated acceptability. Before this visit and 4 months later, symptoms, health status, performance status, care dependency, caregiver burden and recorded advance directives were assessed. A focus group with participating nurses discussed barriers and facilitators towards palliative care needs assessment.
RESULTS: Acceptability was rated as 7 (interquartile range 6-7 points) on a 10-point scale. All patients had palliative care needs. In 48% actions were taken, including two patients referred to palliative care. Symptoms, performance status, care dependency, caregiver burden and advance directives were unchanged at 4 months, while health status deteriorated in patients completing follow-up ( n=17). Barriers towards palliative care needs assessment included feeling uncomfortable to initiate discussions and concerns about the ability to address palliative care needs.
CONCLUSIONS: The NAT:PD-HF identified palliative care needs in all participants, and triggered action to address these in half. However, training in palliative care communication skills as well as palliative care interventions should accompany the introduction of a palliative care needs assessment tool.
Background and purpose: Palliative radiotherapy (RT) is one of the treatment options for bleeding tumours; a frequent symptom in patients with advanced cancer. The optimal RT schedule is however unclear. This study explores the current pattern of practice of palliative RT for bleeding tumours in the Netherlands.
Materials and methods: An internet-based questionnaire, including respondent characteristics, factors influencing the choice of RT schedules and five patient case scenarios, was sent to all members of the Dutch Society for Radiation Oncology. Descriptive statistics were used to evaluate the results.
Results: The response rate was 125/374 (34%); representing 20 out of 21 Dutch RT departments. Most reported influencing factors were performance status, prognosis, patients’ comfort and patients’ choice. Most preferred RT schedules were 1 × 8 Gy for hematemesis, 1 × 8 Gy and 5 × 4 Gy for haemoptysis, 5 × 4 Gy for haematuria, 5 × 5 Gy for rectal bleeding, 1 × 8 Gy, 5 × 4 Gy and 10-13 × 3 Gy for vaginal bleeding.
Conclusions: The current patterns of practice in the Netherlands for bleeding tumours varied considerably. Most often a single fraction is chosen (35% of all cases), followed by a five-fraction schedule (30% of all cases). The choice of an RT schedule is mainly influenced by patient related factors.
Background: Chronic progressive neurological diseases like high grade glioma (HGG), Parkinson's disease (PD), and multiple sclerosis (MS) are incurable, and associated with increasing disability including cognitive impairment, and reduced life expectancy. Patients with these diseases have complex care needs. Therefore, timely advance care planning (ACP) is required. Our aim was to investigate timing and content of discussions on treatment restrictions, i.e., to initiate, withhold, or withdraw treatment in patients with HGG, PD, and MS, from the neurologists' perspective. Methods: We performed a national online survey amongst consultants in neurology and residents in The Netherlands. The questionnaire focused on their daily practice concerning timing and content of discussions on treatment restrictions with patients suffering from HGG, PD or MS. We also inquired about education and training in discussing these issues. Results: A total of 125 respondents [89 neurologists (71%), 62% male, with a median age of 44 years, and 36 residents (29%), 31% male with a median age of 29 years] responded. Initial discussions on treatment restrictions were said to take place during the first year after diagnosis in 28% of patients with HGG, and commonly no earlier than in the terminal phase in patients with PD and MS. In all conditions, significant cognitive decline was the most important trigger to advance discussions, followed by physical decline, and initiation of the terminal phase. Most discussed issues included ventilation, resuscitation, and admission to the intensive care unit. More than half of the consultants in neurology and residents felt that they needed (more) education and training in having discussions on treatment restrictions.
Conclusion: In patients with HGG discussions on treatment restrictions are initiated earlier than in patients with PD or MS. However, in all three diseases these discussions usually take place when significant physical and cognitive decline has become apparent and commonly mark the initiation of end-of-life care. More than half of the responding consultants in neurology and residents feel the need for improvement of their skills in performing these discussions.
Background: An important part of palliative care is discussing preferences at end of life, however such conversations may not often occur. Care staff with greater self-efficacy towards end-of-life communication are probably more likely to have such discussions, however, there is a lack of research on self-efficacy towards end-of-life discussions among long-term care staff in Europe and related factors.
Objectives: Firstly, to describe and compare the self-efficacy level of long-term care staff regarding end-of-life communication across six countries; secondly, to analyse characteristics of staff and facilities which are associated to self-efficacy towards end-of-life communication.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Settings: Long-term care facilities in Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland (n=290).
Participants: Nurses and care assistants (n=1680) completed a self-efficacy scale and were included in the analyses.
Methods: Care staff rated their self-efficacy (confidence in their own ability) on a scale of 0 (cannot do at all) to 7 -(certain can do) of the 8-item communication subscale of the Self-efficacy in End-of-Life Care survey. Staff characteristics included age, gender, professional role, education level, training in palliative care and years working in direct care. Facility characteristics included facility type and availability of palliative care guidelines, palliative care team and palliative care advice. Analyses were conducted using Generalized Estimating Equations, to account for clustering of data at facility level.
Results: The proportion of staff with a mean self-efficacy score >5 was highest in the Netherlands (76.4%), ranged between 55.9% and 60.0% in Belgium, Poland, England and Finland and was lowest in Italy (29.6%). Higher levels of self-efficacy (>5) were associated with: staff over 50 years of age (OR 1.86 95% CI[1.30-2.65]); nurses (compared to care assistants) (1.75 [1.20-2.54]); completion of higher secondary or tertiary education (respectively 2.22 [1.53-3.21] and 3.11 [2.05-4.71]; formal palliative care training (1.71 [1.32-2.21]); working in direct care for over 10 years (1.53 [1.14-2.05]); working in a facility with care provided by onsite nurses and care assistants and offsite physicians (1.86 [1.30-2.65]); and working in a facility where guidelines for palliative care were available (1.39 [1.03-1.88]).
Conclusion: Self-efficacy towards end-of-life communication was most often low in Italy and most often high in the Netherlands. In all countries, low self-efficacy was found relatively often for discussion of prognosis. Palliative care education and guidelines for palliative care could improve the self-efficacy of care staff.
Objective: Radiotherapy is the standard local treatment for patients with painful bone metastases, but effectiveness has primarily been evaluated in trial populations. The aim of this study was to study pain response to palliative radiotherapy in a prospective cohort of unselected patients with bone metastases.
Methods: Patients with painful bone metastases referred to the UMC Utrecht for radiotherapy and enrolled in the PRESENT cohort were included in this study. For all patients, pain response to radiotherapy was assessed, and responders were defined as patients with a complete or partial pain response. Patients with stable pain scores, pain increase, or undetermined response were regarded non-responders. Pain scores obtained at baseline and after 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12 weeks following radiotherapy were obtained. Pain response rates of the total treated population, as well as response rates of the assessable patients, were calculated. To measure the percentage of the remaining time spent with pain relief, the net pain relief (NPR) was calculated by dividing the period of pain relief by the period of survival.
Results: Of the 432 patients enrolled in this study, 262 patients (61%) experienced a complete or partial response. In the 390 assessable patients, this percentage was 67%. Median time to response was 4 weeks (range 1-15 weeks), and the NPR was 64%.
Conclusion: Compared to randomized trial populations, palliative radiotherapy in our unselected patients with bone metastases showed similar pain response rates (61%), with a reasonable duration of this effect.
BACKGROUND: Although it is often recommended that general practitioners (GPs) initiate advance care planning (ACP), little is known about their experiences with ACP. This study aimed to identify GP experiences when conducting ACP conversations with palliative patients, and what factors influence these experiences.
METHODS: Dutch GPs (N = 17) who had participated in a training on timely ACP were interviewed. Data from these interviews were analysed using direct content analysis.
RESULTS: Four themes were identified: ACP and society, the GP's perceived role in ACP, initiating ACP and tailor-made ACP. ACP was regarded as a 'hot topic'. At the same time, a tendency towards a society in which death is not a natural part of life was recognized, making it difficult to start ACP discussions. Interviewees perceived having ACP discussions as a typical GP task. They found initiating and timing ACP easier with proactive patients, e.g. who are anxious of losing capacity, and much more challenging when it concerned patients with COPD or heart failure. Patients still being treated in hospital posed another difficulty, because they often times are not open to discussion. Furthermore, interviewees emphasized that taking into account changing wishes and the fact that not everything can be anticipated, is of the utmost importance. Moreover, when patients are not open to ACP, at a certain point it should be granted that choosing not to know, for example about where things are going or what possible ways of care planning might be, is also a form of autonomy.
CONCLUSIONS: ACP currently is a hot topic, which has favourable as well as unfavourable effects. As GPs experience difficulties in initiating ACP if patients are being treated in the hospital, future research could focus on a multidisciplinary ACP approach and the role of medical specialists in ACP. Furthermore, when starting ACP with palliative patients, we recommend starting with current issues. In doing so, a start can be made with future issues kept in view. Although the tension between ACP's focus on the patient's direction and the right not to know can be difficult, ACP has to be tailored to each individual patient.