BACKGROUND: PaTz (palliative care at home) is a method to improve palliative care in the primary care setting in the Netherlands. PaTz has three basic principles: (1) local GPs and DNs meet at least six times per year to identify and discuss their patients with a life-threatening illness; (2) these meetings are supervised by a specialist palliative care professional; (3) groups use a palliative care register on which all identified patients are listed. Since the start in 2010, the number of PaTz-groups in the Netherlands has been growing consistently. Although the theory of all PaTz-groups is the same, the practical functioning of PaTz-groups may vary substantially, which may complicate further implementation of PaTz as well as interpretation of effect studies. This study aims to describe the variation in practice of PaTz-groups in the Netherlands.
METHOD: In this prospective observational study, ten PaTz-groups logged and described the activities in their meetings as well as the registered and discussed patients and topics of discussions in registration forms for a 1 year follow-up period. In addition, non-participatory observations were performed in all participating groups. Meeting and patient characteristics were analysed using descriptive statistics. Conventional content analysis was performed in the analysis of topic discussions.
RESULTS: While the basic principles of PaTz are found in almost every PaTz-group, there is considerable variation in the practice and content of the meetings of different PaTz-groups. Most groups spend little time on other topics than their patients, although the number of patients discussed in a single meeting varies considerably, as well as the time spent on an individual patient. Most registered patients were diagnosed with cancer and patient discussions mainly concerned current affairs and rarely concerned future issues.
CONCLUSION: The basic principles are the cornerstone of any PaTz-group. At the same time, the observed variation between PaTz-groups indicates that tailoring a PaTz-group to the needs of its participants is important and may enhance its sustainability. The flexibility of PaTz-groups may also provide opportunity to modify the content and tools used, and improve identification of palliative patients and advance care planning.
BACKGROUND: In the Netherlands, euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (EAS) is allowed if due care criteria are met. One criterion is consultation of a second independent physician, often SCEN physicians. The public debate about EAS focuses on patients with psychiatric disorders, dementia, and tired of living, as complex cases. What complexities SCEN physicians perceive during consultation is unknown. This study aims to assess the frequency of EAS consultations that are perceived difficult by SCEN physicians, to explore what complexities are perceived by SCEN physicians during consultation, and to assess what characteristics are associated with difficult consultations.
METHODS: Data from 2015 to 2017 from an annual cross-sectional survey among SCEN physicians was used. In 2015, the survey focused on the most difficult consultation that year and in 2016/2017 on the most recent consultation. Frequencies of coded answers to an open-ended question were done to explore what complexities SCEN physicians perceived during their most difficult consultation. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to assess what characteristics were associated with difficult consultations.
RESULTS: 21.6% of cases consulted by SCEN physicians is perceived difficult. Complexities that SCEN physicians perceive were mainly in contact with patients (79.7%) and in the assessment of due care criteria (41.0%). Characteristics that were associated with a higher likelihood of a consultation being difficult are the attending physician being less certain to perform the EAS, patients staying in the hospital, main diagnosis heart failure/CVA, and accumulation of age-related health problems/psychiatry/dementia, and the presence of a psychiatric disorder, or psychosocial or existential problems besides the main diagnosis. Characteristics that were associated with a lower likelihood of a consultation being difficult are high patient's age and physical suffering as reason to request EAS.
CONCLUSION: Complexities perceived by SCEN physicians in EAS consultations are not limited to the 'complex' cases present in the current public debate about EAS, e.g. patients with psychiatric disorders, dementia, and tired of living. Attention for these complexities in intervision could indicate if there is a need among SCEN physicians to enhance knowledge and skills in training and to receive specific support in intervision on these complexities.
AIMS: Although diabetes mellitus at the end of life is associated with complex care, its end-of-life prevalence is uncertain. Our aim is to estimate diabetes prevalence in the end-of-life population, to evaluate which medical register has the largest added value to cause-of-death data in detecting diabetes cases, and to assess the extent to which reporting of diabetes as a cause of death is associated with disease severity.
METHODS: Our study population consisted of deaths in the Netherlands (2015-2016) included in Nivel Primary Care Database (Nivel-PCD; N=18,162). The proportion of deaths with diabetes (Type 1 or 2) within the last two years of life was calculated using individually linked cause-of-death, general practice, medication, and hospital discharge data. Severity status of diabetes was defined with dispensed medicines.
RESULTS: According to all data sources combined, 28.7% of the study population had diabetes at the end of life. The estimated end-of-life prevalence of diabetes was 7.7% using multiple cause-of-death data only. Addition of general practice data increased this estimate the most (19.7%-points). Of the cases added by primary care data, 76.3% had a severe or intermediate status.
CONCLUSIONS: More than one fourth of the Dutch end-of-life population has diabetes. Cause-of-death data are insufficient to monitor this prevalence, even of severe cases of diabetes, but could be enriched particularly with general practice data.
INTRODUCTION: Patients faced with incurable cancer may experience a lack of support from their physician throughout and after treatment. Studies on the needs and experiences of these patients are scarce. In this study, we explored the needs and experiences of patients diagnosed with incurable cancer regarding the conversation, in which they were told that their cancer was incurable, the care received after this conversation, and their preferences regarding end-of-life conversations.
METHODS: Data were cross-sectionally collected through a national online survey in the Netherlands (September 2018). Descriptive statistics and correlation coefficients were reported and subgroups were compared.
RESULTS: Six hundred fifty-four patients (mean age 60 years; 58% women) completed the survey. Patients were primarily diagnosed with breast cancer (22%) or a hematological malignancy (21%). Patients reported a strong need for emotional support during the conversation, in which they were told their cancer was incurable (mean score 8.3; scale 1-10). Their experienced satisfaction with received emotional support was mediocre (mean score 6.4; scale 1-10). Of those patients who felt like they did not receive any additional care (37%) after the diagnosis, the majority expressed a clear need for this kind of care (59%). Mostly, support pertained to psychosocial issues. Regarding conversations about the end of life, most patients (62%) expressed a need to discuss this topic, and preferred their healthcare provider to initiate this conversation.
CONCLUSION: Care for patients with incurable cancer can be further improved by tailoring conversations to specific needs and timely providing appropriate supportive care services.
BACKGROUND: In the Netherlands, Foundation De Einder offers counselling to people who wish to be able to self-determine the timing and manner of their end of life.
AIM: This study explores the experiences with counselling that counselees receive(d) from counsellors facilitated by Foundation De Einder.
METHODS: Open coding and inductive analysis of in-depth interviews with 17 counselees.
RESULTS: Counselling ranged from solely receiving information about lethal medication to combining this with psychological counselling about matters of life and death, and the effects for close ones. Counselees appreciated the availability of the counsellor, their careful and open attitude, feeling respected and being reminded about their own responsibility. Some counselees felt dependent on the counsellor, or questioned their competency. Most counselees collected lethal medication. This gave them peace of mind and increased their quality of life, but also led to new concerns. Few were inclined to use their self-collected medication. Counselling contributed to thinking about if, when and how counselees would like to end their life.
CONCLUSION: Having obtained means to end their lives can offer people feelings of reassurance, which can increase their quality of life, but can also give rise to new concerns. Next to providing information on (collecting) lethal medication, counsellors can play an important role by having an open non-judgemental attitude, providing trustworthy information and being available. These positively valued aspects of counselling are also relevant for physicians taking care of patients who wish to self-determine the timing and manner of their end of life.
Background: early identification of palliative patients is challenging. The Surprise Question (SQ1; Would I be surprised if this patient were to die within 12 months?) is widely used to identify palliative patients. However, its predictive value is low. Therefore, we added a second question (SQ2) to SQ1: ‘Would I be surprised if this patient is still alive after 12 months?’ We studied the accuracy of this double surprise question (DSQ) in a general practice.
Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study with retrospective medical record review in a general practice in the eastern part of the Netherlands. Two general practitioners (GPs) answered both questions for all 292 patients aged =75 years (mean age 84 years).
Primary outcome was 1-year death, secondary outcomes were aspects of palliative care.
Results: SQ1 was answered with ‘no‘ for 161/292 patients. Of these, SQ2 was answered with ‘yes’ in 22 patients. Within 12 months 26 patients died, of whom 24 had been identified with SQ1 (sensitivity: 92%, specificity: 49%). Ten of them were also identified with SQ2 (sensitivity: 42%, specificity: 91%). The latter group had more contacts with their GP and more palliative care aspects were discussed.
Conclusions: The DSQ appears a feasible and easy applicable screening tool in general practice. It is highly effective in predicting patients in high need for palliative care and using it helps to discriminate between patients with different life expectancies and palliative care needs. Further research is necessary to confirm the findings of this study.
BACKGROUND: Early palliative care team consultation has been shown to reduce costs of hospital care. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between palliative care team (PCT) consultation and the content and costs of hospital care in patients with advanced cancer.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A prospective, observational study was conducted in 12 Dutch hospitals. Patients with advanced cancer and an estimated life expectancy of less than 1 year were included. We compared hospital care during 3 months of follow-up for patients with and without PCT involvement. Propensity score matching was used to estimate the effect of PCTs on costs of hospital care. Additionally, gamma regression models were estimated to assess predictors of hospital costs.
RESULTS: We included 535 patients of whom 126 received PCT consultation. Patients with PCT had a worse life expectancy (life expectancy <3 months: 62% vs. 31%, p < .01) and performance status (p < .01, e.g., WHO status higher than 2:54% vs. 28%) and more often had no more options for anti-tumour therapy (57% vs. 30%, p < .01). Hospital length of stay, use of most diagnostic procedures, medication and other therapeutic interventions were similar. The total mean hospital costs were €8,393 for patients with and €8,631 for patients without PCT consultation. Analyses using propensity scores to control for observed confounding showed no significant difference in hospital costs.
CONCLUSIONS: PCT consultation for patients with cancer in Dutch hospitals often occurs late in the patients' disease trajectories, which might explain why we found no effect of PCT consultation on costs of hospital care. Earlier consultation could be beneficial to patients and reduce costs of care.
OBJECTIVE: Chemotherapy in the last month of life for patients with metastatic lung cancer is often considered as aggressive end-of-life care. Targeted therapy with Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs) is a relatively new treatment of which not much is known yet about use in the last month of life. We examined what percentage of patients received chemotherapy or TKIs in the last month of life in the Netherlands.
METHODS: Patient files were drawn from 10 hospitals across the Netherlands. Patients had to meet the following eligibility criteria: metastatic lung cancer; died between June 1, 2013 and July 31, 2015.
RESULTS: From the included 1,322 patients, 39% received no treatment for metastatic lung cancer, 52% received chemotherapy and 9% received TKIs. A total of 232 patients (18%) received treatment in the last month of life (11% chemotherapy, 7% TKIs). From the patients who received chemotherapy, 145 (21%) received this in the last month of life and 79 (11%) started this treatment in the last month of life. TKIs were given and started more often in the last month of life: from the patients who received TKIs, 87 (72%) received this treatment in the last month of life and 15 (12%) started this treatment in the last month of life.
CONCLUSION: A substantial percentage of patient received and even started chemotherapy or TKIs in the last month of life. For chemotherapy, this might be seen as aggressive care. TKIs are said to have less side effects, do not lead to many hospital visits and due to the rapid response, are considered good palliation. However, it is not known, yet possible that, when patients still receiving treatment until shortly before death, this might influence preparing for death in a negative way.
Context: Migrant populations across Europe are aging and will increasingly need end-of-life care.
Objective: To gain insight into end-of-life care and decision-making for patients with a non-western migration background and assess differences compared to patients with a Dutch or western migration background.
Methods: A mortality follow-back study using a stratified sample of death certificates of persons who died between August and December 2015, obtained from the central death registry of Statistics Netherlands. Questionnaires were sent to the attending physician (n = 9,351; response 78%). Patients aged = 18 who died a non-sudden death were included in this study (n = 5,327).
Results: Patients with a non-western migration background are more likely than patients with a Dutch or western migration background to be admitted to and die in hospital (51,6% vs. 33,9% [OR 1.74 CI95% 1.26 – 2.41]; 39,1% vs. 20,1% [OR 1.96 CI95% 1.39 – 2.78]); less likely to receive morphine or morphine-like medication and continuous deep sedation (72,8% vs. 80,1% [OR 0.62 CI95% 0.43 – 0.89]; 16,8% vs. 25,2% [OR 0.52 CI95% 0.34 – 0.80]); and more likely to receive end-of-life care that, according to physicians, is directed at curation for too long (6,8% vs. 1,7% [OR 3.61 CI95% 1.83 – 7.12]). End-of-life decisions are made less frequently for patients with a non-western migration background (71,6% vs. 79,2% [OR 0.64 CI95% 0.45 – 0.91]). Characteristics of decision-making are similar.
Conclusion: End-of-life care for patients with a non-western migration background focuses more, or longer on maximum, curative treatment and end-of-life decisions are made less often.
Background: As small-bowel adenocarcinoma (SBA) is scarce, no standard systemic regimen in metastatic disease has been defined.
Objective: To obtain insights into the use and effects of palliative chemotherapy in patients with metastatic SBA in a population-based setting.
Methods: Data from the Netherlands Cancer Registry of patients with metastatic SBA between 2007 and 2016 were used (n = 522). For patients treated with palliative chemotherapy, differences in treatment regimens and survival were evaluated.
Results: Palliative chemotherapy was received by 38% of patients (n = 199). First-line combination chemotherapy was administered to 80% of patients, mainly CAPOX/FOLFOX. Single-agent chemotherapy mostly consisted of capecitabine. Second-line treatment, mostly irinotecan-based (58%), was prescribed to 27% of patients. Age 70 years or older was an adverse predictive factor for receiving first-line combination chemotherapy (odds ratio (OR) 0.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.08–0.62) and second-line therapy (OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.10–0.72). Median overall survival with palliative chemotherapy was 9.3 months, compared with 3.0 months without. In subanalyses, patients who received only first-line treatment had a median overall survival of 5.6 and 7.0 months after single-agent and combination chemotherapy, respectively.
Conclusion: A minority of patients were treated with palliative chemotherapy. First-line treatment consisted predominantly of oxaliplatin-based combination chemotherapy, whereas second-line treatment was mainly irinotecan-based. Population-based median overall survival for selected patients treated with chemotherapy amounted to nine months.
Background: Physicians who receive a request for euthanasia or assisted suicide may experience a conflict of duties: the duty to preserve life on the one hand and the duty to relieve suffering on the other hand. Little is known about experiences of physicians with receiving and granting a request for euthanasia or assisted suicide. This study, therefore, aimed to explore the concerns, feelings and pressure experienced by physicians who receive requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Methods: In 2016, a cross-sectional study was conducted. Questionnaires were sent to a random sample of 3000 Dutch physicians. Physicians who had been working in adult patient care in the Netherlands for the last year were included in the sample (n = 2657). Half of the physicians were asked about the most recent case in which they refused a request for euthanasia or assisted suicide, and half about the most recent case in which they granted a request for euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Results: Of the 2657 eligible physicians, 1374 (52%) responded. The most reported reason not to participate was lack of time. Of the respondents, 248 answered questions about a refused euthanasia or assisted suicide request and 245 about a granted EAS request. Concerns about specific aspects of the euthanasia and assisted suicide process, such as the emotional burden of preparing and performing euthanasia or assisted suicide were commonly reported by physicians who refused and who granted a request. Pressure to grant a request was mostly experienced by physicians who refused a request, especially if the patient was =80 years, had a life-expectancy of =6 months and did not have cancer. The large majority of physicians reported contradictory emotions after having performed euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Conclusions: Society should be aware of the impact of euthanasia and assisted suicide requests on physicians. The tension physicians experience may decrease their willingness to perform euthanasia and assisted suicide. On the other hand, physicians should not be forced to cross their own moral boundaries or be tempted to perform euthanasia and assisted suicide in cases that may not meet the due care criteria.
BACKGROUND: Hospices provide multidimensional care. In the Netherlands, patients with <3 months estimated life expectancy have access to hospice care. Insight into patients admitted to hospices and the care provided is lacking. In preparation for a national multicenter study, a pilot study was performed.
OBJECTIVE: The primary objective was to test the appropriateness of the study procedures and the availability of hospice patient records (HPRs), and patient and care characteristics.
METHOD: A cross-sectional pilot study was performed using a descriptive exploratory design. Sixteen hospices were invited to participate, and HPRs from 8 deceased patients per hospice were selected. Data were collected using self-developed electronic case report forms.
OUTCOMES: (1). Appropriateness of procedures: availability of HPRs and identified barriers and strategies. (2) Availability of patient and care characteristics in HPRs.
RESULTS: In total, 104 HPRs of patients from 13 hospices were enrolled. Various types of HPRs were found with different availabilities: nurses' records were most available (98%) compared to volunteers' records (62%). Overarching barriers were as follows: ethical issues, lack of knowledge, and lack of communication. Information about the illness was most available (97%), whereas descriptions of experienced symptoms were least available (10%).
CONCLUSION: Collecting HPRs is difficult and time-consuming. Specifically, data from separate records of home care nurses and general practitioners were difficult to come by. Patient and care characteristics were alternately present, which led to an extension of data collection in HPRs to 3 time periods. Piloting is essential to adjust study procedures and outcome measures to ensure a feasible national multicenter hospice study.
INTRODUCTION: Hospice care (HC) in the Netherlands is available for patients with life expectancies <3 months. Little is known about expectations of patients who might be in need of HC. This study aims to gain insight into expectations of patients regarding HC in order to ameliorate HC to become driven by patient needs.
DESIGN: A generic qualitative study, using semistructured interviews and thematic analysis, is performed in the Netherlands from January to June 2018. A purposeful sample of 13 participants was drawn.
RESULTS: Participants expected hospice admission only when the burden became unbearable and a home death cannot be reached. Participants expected a homely atmosphere, where one can continue the life lived at home as much as possible. Participants supposed empathic professional caregivers, capable of providing appropriate care. The general practitioner is expected to stay involved in the care process due to the mutual trust. Medical and daily care are required to be provided by competent professionals, where volunteers are expected to provide supportive care. All caregivers are supposed to provide a listening ear and "being there" for participants. Social care and spiritual care are generally projected to be private matters, unless it is requested.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients in the palliative phase who might be in need of HC have specific expectations. Perceptions of HC in the public domain should be nuanced in response to these expectations, and information provision on HC should be improved. Then, expectations could be met to make HC more driven by patient needs and future oriented.
On 11 September 2019, the verdict was read in the first prosecution of a doctor for euthanasia since the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act of 2002 was installed in the Netherlands. The case concerned euthanasia on the basis of an advance euthanasia directive (AED) for a patient with severe dementia. In this paper we describe the review process for euthanasia cases in the Netherlands. Then we describe the case in detail, the judgement of the Regional Review Committees for Termination of Life on Request and Euthanasia (RTE) and the judgement of the medical disciplinary court. Both the review committees and the disciplinary court came to the conclusion there were concerns with this case, which mainly hinged on the wording of the AED. They also addressed the lack of communication with the patient, the absence of oral confirmation of the wish to die and the fact that the euthanasia was performed without the patient being aware of this. However, the doctor was acquitted by the criminal court as the court found she had in fact met all due care criteria laid down in the act. We then describe what this judgement means for euthanasia in the Netherlands. It clarifies the power and reach of AEDs, it allows taking conversations with physicians and the testimony of the family into account when interpreting the AED. However, as a practical consequence the prosecution of this physician has led to fear among doctors about prosecution after euthanasia.
BACKGROUND: Diagnosis and treatment of incurable cancer as a life-changing experience evokes difficult existential questions.
AIM: A structured reflection could improve patients' quality of life and spiritual well-being. We developed an interview model on life events and ultimate life goals and performed a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect thereof on quality of life and spiritual well-being.
DESIGN: The intervention group had two consultations with a spiritual counselor. The control group received care as usual. EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL and the FACIT-sp were administered at baseline and 2 and 4 months after baseline. Linear mixed model analysis was performed to test between-group differences over time.
PARTICIPANTS: Adult patients with incurable cancer and a life expectancy >=6 months were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to the intervention or control group.
RESULTS: A total of 153 patients from six different hospitals were included: 77 in the intervention group and 76 in the control group. Quality of life and spiritual well-being did not significantly change over time between groups. The experience of Meaning/Peace was found to significantly influence quality of life (beta = 0.52, adj. R(exp2) = 0.26) and satisfaction with life (beta = 0.61, adj. R(exp2) = 0.37).
CONCLUSION: Although our newly developed interview model was well perceived by patients, we were not able to demonstrate a significant difference in quality of life and spiritual well-being between groups. Future interventions by spiritual counselors aimed at improving quality of life, and spiritual well-being should focus on the provision of sources of meaning and peace.
OBJECTIVES: Advance care planning (ACP) is seldom initiated with people with dementia (PWD) and mainly focuses on medical end-of-life decisions. We studied the effects of an educational intervention for general practitioners (GPs) aimed at initiating and optimizing ACP, with a focus on discussing medical and nonmedical preferences of future care.
DESIGN: A single-blinded cluster randomized controlled trial.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: In 2016, 38 Dutch GPs (all from different practices) completed the study. They recruited 140 PWD, aged = }65 years at any stage and with any type of dementia, from their practice.
METHODS: Intervention group GPs were trained in ACP, including shared decision-making and role-playing exercises. Control group GPs provided usual care. The primary outcome was ACP initiation: the proportion of PWD that had at least 1 ACP conversation documented in their medical file. Key secondary outcomes were the number of medical (ie, resuscitation, hospital admission) and nonmedical (ie, activities, social contacts) preferences discussed. At the 6-month follow-up, subjects' medical records were analyzed using random effect logistics and linear models with correction for GP clustering.
RESULTS: 38 GP clusters (19 intervention; 19 control) included 140 PWD (intervention 73; control 67). Four PWD (2.9%) dropped out on the primary and key secondary outcomes. After 6 months, intervention group GPs initiated ACP with 35 PWD (49.3%), and control group GPs initiated ACP with 9 PWD (13.9%) [odds ratio (OR) 1.99; P = .002]. Intervention group GPs discussed 0.8 more medical [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.3, 1.3; P = .003] and 1.5 more nonmedical (95% CI 0.8, 2.3; P < .001) preferences per person with dementia than control group GPs.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Our educational intervention increased ACP initiation, and the number of nonmedical and medical preferences discussed. This intervention has the potential to better align future care of PWD with their preferences but because of the short follow-up, the GPs' long-term adoption remains unknown.
OBJECTIVES: To facilitate care at the end of life at home, support from family caregivers is crucial. A substantial number of these family caregivers also work. Work in relation to care for terminally ill patients has received limited attention. To better understand the context in which these family caregivers provide care, we provide a detailed overview of the situation and experiences of family caregivers of terminally ill patients at home, with and without paid work.
METHODS: We used a pooled cross-section of data from the Dutch Informal Care Study, collected in 2014 and 2016. All working and non-working family caregivers of terminally ill patients at home were included (n=292).
RESULTS: Working family caregivers reported more care tasks, and shared care tasks with others more often than non-working caregivers. No differences between working and non-working caregivers were found in negative and positive experiences. Non-working caregivers provided care more often because the care recipient wanted to be helped by them or because there was no one else available than working caregivers. About 70% of the working caregivers were able to combine work and family caregiving successfully.
CONCLUSIONS: Working and non-working family caregivers of terminally ill patients at home have similar burden and positive experiences. Working family caregivers vary in their ability to combine work and care. Although the majority of working family caregivers successfully combine work and care, a substantial number struggle and need more support with care tasks at home or responsibilities at work.
BACKGROUND: In Denmark, a tax-based universal healthcare setting, drug reimbursement for terminal illness (DRTI) should be equally accessible for all terminally ill patients. Examining DRTI status by regions provides new knowledge on inequality in palliative care provision and associated factors. This study aims to investigate geographical variation in DRTI among terminally ill cancer patients.
METHODS: We linked socioeconomic and medical data from 135 819 Danish cancer decedents in the period 2007-15 to regional healthcare characteristics. We analyzed associations between region of residence and DRTI. Prevalence ratios (PR) for DRTI were estimated using generalized linear models adjusted for patient factors (age, gender, comorbidity and socioeconomic profile) and multilevel models adjusted for both patient factors and regional healthcare capacity (patients per general practitioner, numbers of hospital and hospice beds).
RESULTS: DRTI allocation differed substantially across Danish regions. Healthcare capacity was associated with DRTI with a higher probability of DRTI among patients living in regions with high compared with low hospice bed supply (PR 1.13, 95% CI 1.10-1.17). Also, the fully adjusted PR of DRTI was 0.94 (95% CI 0.91-0.96) when comparing high with low number of hospital beds. When controlled for both patient and regional healthcare characteristics, the PR for DRTI was 1.17 (95% CI 1.14-1.21) for patients living in the Central Denmark Region compared with the Capital Region.
CONCLUSION: DRTI status varied across regions in Denmark. The variation was associated with the distribution of healthcare resources. These findings highlight difficulties in ensuring equal access to palliative care even in a universal healthcare system.
BACKGROUND: Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EAS) in psychiatry are permitted in the Netherlands under certain legal conditions. Doctors may help patients who suffer unbearably and who have no prospect of improvement from psychiatric illnesses. Although this practice is permitted, it remains controversial, and the acceptability of EAS and the conditions under which it should be allowed are still debated. As the number of psychiatric patients requesting EAS is increasing, Dutch psychiatrists are becoming more reluctant to consider EAS.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims for a better understanding of Dutch psychiatrists' considerations for supporting or rejecting EAS for psychiatric patients.
METHODS: The data for this qualitative study were collected through 17 in-depth interviews with Dutch psychiatrists. These interviews were held from January until June 2016 as a part of the Third Evaluation of the Dutch Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act.
RESULTS: Irrespective of their own position in the debate, most Dutch psychiatrists consider reasons for and against EAS, including moral (justice and equality, professional responsibility, compassion), epistemologic (how can one ever know the suffering is without prospect), practical, and contextual (mental health care provisions) reasons.
CONCLUSIONS: The variation in views on EAS in psychiatry seems to be related to a difference in views on the nature of psychiatric diseases. Some psychiatrists stress the similarity between psychiatric and somatic diseases, whereas others stress the fundamental difference. These opposing views could be bridged by a pragmatic view, such as a 2-track approach to EAS.
BACKGROUND: Patients with palliative care needs, require support with their physical needs, but also with their emotional, spiritual and social needs. Patient-Centred Care (PCC) may help organizations to support these patients according to their needs and so improve the quality of care. PCC has been shown to consist of eight dimensions, including for instance access to care and continuity of care, but these eight dimensions may not be equally important in all care settings and to all patients. Furthermore, the views of those involved in care provision may affect the choices they make concerning care and support to patients. Therefore, insight into how professionals and volunteers involved in palliative care delivery view PCC is important for understanding and improving the quality of care in the palliative sector.
METHODS: This study was conducted in the palliative care setting (hospices and hospitals) in the Netherlands. Views on palliative care were investigated using the Q-methodology. Participants were asked to rank 35 statements that represented the eight dimensions of PCC in palliative care settings, and to explain their ranking during a follow-up interview. Ranking data were analysed using by-person factor analysis. Interview materials were used to help interpret the resulting factors.
RESULTS: The analysis revealed two distinct viewpoints on PCC in palliative care: 'The patient in the driver seat', particularly emphasizing the importance of patient autonomy during the last phase of life, and 'The patient in the passenger seat', focussed on the value of coordination between professionals, volunteers and patients.
CONCLUSIONS: The most distinguishing aspect between views on PCC in palliative care concerned control; a preference for the patient in the driver's seat versus shared decision-making by a team consisting of patient, professionals and volunteers. Different types of care and support may be most adequate to satisfy the different needs and preferences of patients with either of these views.