PURPOSE: Although it is accepted that in general spousal caregivers of patients with cancer are under high emotional and physical strain, little is known about the quality of life specifically among spousal caregivers of older cancer patients. The aim of the current study is to explore the emotional toll of spousal caregivers of cancer patients aged 65-85 years.
METHODS: This study surveyed 242 spousal caregivers of patients = 65 years old, diagnosed with cancer, treated with curative or palliative intent, and within 6 months of treatment at enrollment. Standardized measures completed by the caregivers included depression measure (Geriatric Depression Scale); distress (Distress Thermometer); and social support (the Cancer Perceived Agents of Social Support). Logistic regression analyses were used in order to identify the predictor of clinical depression and distress. The analyses were adjusted for patient (sociodemographic, functional performance, and medical status) and caregiver (sociodemographic and social support) factors.
RESULTS: Among the caregivers, the frequencies of clinical depression and distress were 16.5% and 28% respectively. Increasing patient age and time from diagnosis were associated with reduced levels of caregiver depression. Higher levels of friends and spousal support (support from the patients) were associated with non-clinical levels of depression and distress.
CONCLUSION: Increasing patient age and caregiver's perceived spousal support may both have a positive effect on caregivers' levels of depression. This can be utilized by clinicians in the process of empowering older patients and their spousal caregivers to confront the challenges of cancer treatment into advanced old age.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about the patterns of end-of-life (EOL) health care for older Mexican-Americans with or without a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). Our objective was to investigate the frequency of acute hospital admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) use, and ventilator use during the last 30-days of life for deceased older Mexican-American Medicare Beneficiaries with and without an ADRD diagnosis.
METHODS: We used Medicare claims data linked with survey information from 1,090 participants (mean age of death 85.1 years) of the Hispanic EPESE. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds for hospitalization, ICU use, and ventilator use in the last 30-days of life for decedents with ADRD compared to those without ADRD. Generalized linear models were used to estimate risk ratio for length of hospital stay (LOS).
RESULTS: Within the last 30-days of life, 64.5% of decedents had an acute hospitalization (59.1% ADRD, 68.3% no ADRD), 33.9% had an ICU stay (31.3% ADRD, 35.8% no ADRD), and 17.2% used a ventilator (14.9% ADRD, 18.8% no ADRD). ADRD was associated with significantly lower hospitalizations (OR=0.67, 95% CI=0.50-0.89) and shorter LOS (RR=0.77, 95% CI=0.65-0.90).
CONCLUSION: Hospitalization, ICU stay, and ventilator use are common at the end of life for older Mexican-Americans. The lower hospitalization and shorter LOS of decedents with ADRD indicate a modest reduction in acute care use. Future research should investigate the impact of EOL planning on acute-care use and quality of life in terminally ill Mexican-American older adults.
This perspective review considers analytic features of the design of a longitudinal trial regarding antimicrobial therapy in older terminal cancer patients receiving palliative care. We first overview antimicrobial use at the end of life; both the potential hazards and benefits. Antimicrobial prescribing should consider both initiation as well as cessation of medications when analyzing the burden of medications. Approaches to decision making regarding antimicrobial use are presented and the importance of health literacy in these decision processes. We next present aspects of both feasibility and comparative trial design with a health literacy intervention to reduce antimicrobial use in older terminal cancer patients receiving palliative care. Considerations to clustered randomization and given that infections can reoccur over a trial period, we share suggestions of longitudinal modeling of clustered randomized trial data.
CASE HISTORY: DG is a 61-year-old college-educated, divorced, male navy veteran with no children who is currently unemployed and lives in a residential group home for management of his chronic mental illness. DG had been psychiatrically stable for years and enjoyed some degree of independence. With regard to his functioning, DG would navigate the bus and train system independently, did his own shopping, and attended theater performances. He required assistance remembering to take his medications and with attending appointments, arising in part from negative symptoms of schizophrenia, including apathy and amotivation. Although he had not lived alone or worked in recent years, he had expressed interest in moving into his own apartment and teaching English as a second language. Of note, he served as a linguist in the navy many years before. He also enjoyed reading Russian literature, speaking Russian (in which he is fluent), and engaging in deep conversations on literature with visitors and staff.
Le consentement est une notion présente au cœur de notre pratique soignante. Comment faire lorsque la personne soignée est atteinte de troubles cognitifs altérant son jugement et son discernement ? Dans ce contexte, le consentement à l’entrée en institution convoque un questionnement éthique. Il est nécessaire d’interroger les pratiques et d’inscrire la personne âgée vulnérable dans une décision qui la concerne en premier lieu.
BACKGROUND: Health care expenditures (HCE) are known to steepen with increasing age, but the contributions of biological age, morbidity, or proximity to death as cost drivers are debated. Age-associated HCE growth can be studied across two dimensions: within fixed groups of persons with the same birth year followed over time (birth cohort), or the same age classes (e.g. 66 to 70 year olds) at different time points (age-class analysis). Using health insurance claims data including morbidity and mortality information, HCE growth was analyzed in Swiss mandatory health insurance for the years 1996 to 2011 and compared across the two age dimensions.
RESULTS: Deflated HCE were analyzed for 104,000 persons from three birth cohorts (1921-25, 1926-30, 1931-35). Two-part regression models were adjusted for proximity-to-death (death within same or next calendar year) and morbidity indicators (hospitalization, high drug expenditures, and pharmaceutical cost groups from 2006 onwards). When analyzing HCE growth within birth cohorts, controlling for survival and morbidity status decreased age-associated HCE estimates by 31% to 51% compared to crude age averages. The total HCE volume share of decedents rose from 19% to 31% in the 1931-35 birth cohort and from 28% to 51% for the 1921-25 birth cohort. The analysis of same age classes (e.g. 71-75 year olds) over different years revealed no HCE growth (steepening) in excess of deflation for groups aged 75 years or less, and only moderate HCE growth for those =76 years. For the 76+ age classes, the population fraction of decedents decreased by -3% (age 76-80) and -15% (age 81-85) over time, whilst the total HCE volume share of decedent-associated HCE increased by +16% and +9%, with an HCE growth of +3.2% and +2.5% per year.
CONCLUSIONS: HCE growth was dominated by end-of-life HCE, but residual age-associated HCE growth remained pertinent, the extent of which however depended on morbidity indicator definitions. A better understanding of shifts in chronic disease prevalence with rising age, as well as associated HCE and survival impacts of treatment will be key for further refining future HCE projections.
OBJECTIVE: To describe disparities in patterns of hospice use and end-of-life costs among ovarian cancer patients.
METHODS: Using Texas Cancer Registry-Medicare data, ovarian cancer patients deceased 2005-2012 with >12 months of continuous Medicare coverage before death were included. Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regressions were used to evaluate patterns of hospice use. Cost and resource utilization was obtained from Medicare claims and analyzed using a non-parametric Mann-Whitney test.
RESULTS: 2331 patients were assessed: 1788 (77%) white, 359 (15%) Hispanic, 158 (7%) black and 26 (1%) other. 1756 (75%) enrolled in hospice prior to death but only 1580 (68%) died with hospice. 176 (10%) of 1756 patients unenrolled and died without hospice. 346 (20%) unenrolled from hospice multiple times. From 2008 to 2012, patients were less likely to unenroll from hospice prior to death. Black patients were more likely to unenroll from hospice prior to death (OR 2.07 [1.15-3.73]; p = 0.02) compared to white patients. The median amount paid by Medicare during the last six months of life was $38,530 for those in hospice compared to $49,942 if never enrolled in hospice (p < 0.0001) and was higher for black and Hispanic patients compared to white patients. 30% hospice unenrolled patients and 40% multiply enrolled hospice patients received at least one life extending or invasive care procedure following unenrollment from hospice.
CONCLUSION: Recently, more patients remain enrolled in hospice, but black patients have a higher risk of unenrollment. Hospice enrollment was associated with lower costs as long as a patient did not unenroll from hospice.
Background: Maintenance of medications that are unconducive to the quality of life is difficult to justify in dying terminally-ill cancer patients.
Objective: We aimed at determining the prevalence of administering antidiabetic, antihypertensive, and lipid-lowering medications to elderly patients dying with cancer.
Methods: We reviewed the medical records of patients above 60 years of age with advanced cancer who died in a palliative care unit. The collected data included the use of antidiabetic, antihypertensive, and lipid-lowering medications during the last week of life.
Results: Of 103 patients, 51.5% were female and the median age was 69 years. The most common cancers included gastrointestinal (40.8%), gynecological (13.6%), and head and neck (12.6%). All patients had advanced cancer and 59.2% had hypertension, 52.4% had diabetes mellitus, and 19.4% had dyslipidemia. During their last week of life, 38.8% received antidiabetic, 23.3% received antihypertensive, and 3.9% received lipid-lowering agents. The data showed that 68.5% of people with diabetes received antidiabetic medications, 37.7% of hypertensive patients received antihypertensive medications, and 20% of dyslipidemics received lipid-lowering agents. Hypoglycemia was reported in 7.5% of patients receiving antidiabetic drugs, while hypotension was reported in 66.7% of patients receiving antihypertensive agents.
Conclusion: Many elderly patients dying with advanced cancer in a palliative care unit were maintained on medications for chronic conditions until the very late stages of their lives. For such imminently dying patients, benefits of such medications are unlikely and burdens are possible. Further research is needed to explore physicians' justifications, if any, for maintaining such patients on apparently futile medications.
Background: Accurate pain assessment in elderly population is essential for pain management and nurses have a pivotal role. The 11-face Faces Pain Scale (FPS-11) is a well-established pain assessment measure that has not been validated in the Iranian elderly.
Aim: The aim was to study the property assessment of the Iranian version of FPS-11 (FPS-11-IR) among elderly outpatients with chronic pain.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional validation study that conducted in three outpatient clinics in Tehran, Iran, in 2017. Older people aged = 60 years (n = 217) with chronic knee pain due to degenerative joint disease were participated. The construct validity was examined by applying contrast constructs, and the face validity was determined by rank-ordering test. To assess concurrent validity, the Spearman's correlation coefficient was calculated between the scores of 11-point Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) and FPS-11-IR. Test-retest reliability was determined in 1-week interval.
Results: Most of elderly participants (72%) agreed that pain construct displays in faces of the FPS-11-IR and participants" agreement on face rank ordering were vary for each face, ranging from 80% to 100%. Spearman's correlation coefficient between FPS-11-IR and NRS scores was very strong (r = 0.91, P < 0.01). Intraclass correlation coefficient between test-retest scores was 0.96 that indicates excellent reliability.
Conclusions: The FPS-11-IR is a reliable and valid pain assessment scale to use in geriatric patients chronic pain.
What matters at the end of life (EOL) among the older population in Denmark is poorly investigated. We used focus groups and in-depth interviews, to identify perspectives within the EOL, along with what influences resuscitation, decision making, and other treatment preferences. We included eligible participants aged =65 years in the Region of Southern Denmark. Five focus groups and nine in-depth interviews were conducted, in total 31 participants. We found a general willingness to discuss EOL, and experiences of the process of dying were present among all participants. Three themes emerged during the analysis: (a) Being independent is crucial for the future, (b) Handling and talking about the EOL, and (c) Conditions in Everyday Life are Significant. Life experiences seemed to affect the degree of reflection of EOL and the decision-making process. Knowing your population of interest is crucial, when developing an approach or using an advance care plan from another setting.
BACKGROUND: There is limited understanding of the symptoms that older people living with cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease experience during the last year of life in Thailand, in addition to their health service preferences.
AIMS: To survey the symptom experiences and health service preferences at the end of life of older people with chronic illnesses from the perspective of bereaved carers.
METHODS: The study used a retrospective post-bereavement approach to collect quantitative data. Purposive sampling was used to select 76 bereaved relatives of older people living with chronic illnesses who had died in the previous 5 to10 months. Telephone interviews and a translated version of the Views of Informal Carers-Evaluation Services (VOICES) questionnaire were conducted. Data were analysed using the statistical package SPSS version 17.
FINDINGS: The overall quality of care received by older people living with chronic diseases during the last three months of life was described as 'good' (36%). However, in comparing the quality of care from different settings, most of the subjects (63%) thought that the quality of care at home should be rated as 'poor'. During the last twelve months, 35% of the respondents rated pain and poor appetite as the main symptoms, while 25% described experiencing 'worry' related to being at the end of life. The severity of many symptoms increased during the last three months of life; 21% of carers recommended that pain caused the most suffering to their relatives at 'all times', when compared with other symptoms of end of life. Around 21-35% reported that their relatives 'sometimes' experienced worry, low mood, breathlessness and oedema. During the last three days of life, it was reported by 97% of respondents that their relatives spent all of their time in hospital, and no respondents reported that their relatives had died at home.
CONCLUSION: The study indicates that older people living with chronic diseases in Thailand are less likely to access specialist palliative care and are more likely to have poor symptom control at the end of life. It indicates that health services may not be meeting patients' needs and that there was clearly insufficient healthcare provision at home for older people to help them to manage their symptoms such as pain and breathlessness.
BACKGROUND: Concerns over the creation of advance directives (ADs) and the factors associated with treatment directive decisions among Korean community-dwelling older people with chronic diseases have rarely been addressed.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to examine knowledge, attitudes and barriers/benefits regarding ADs and their associations with AD treatment preferences among chronically ill, low-income, community-dwelling older people.
METHODS: Using a descriptive, correlational design, older people who were recipients of home visiting service for chronic disease management participated in this study. Home visiting nurses collected data on knowledge, attitudes and perceived barriers/benefits and treatment directives using questionnaires during home visits.
RESULTS: Older people (N = 112, mean age = 74.9 years, women = 83.9%) who had chronic diseases such as hypertension (56.3%), diabetes mellitus (40.2%) and cardiovascular disease/stroke (22.3%) participated. Approximately half of the participants preferred hospice care (54.5%), while a few of them preferred aggressive treatments: cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) (14.3%), ventilation support (9.8%) and haemodialysis (8.9%). Being married was associated with the likelihood of preferring CPR (odds ratio [OR] = 11.79) and ventilation support (OR = 9.99), higher education with CPR (OR = 1.23) and haemodialysis (OR = 1.16), and having a cardiovascular disease (CVD)/stroke with CPR (OR = 6.46) and hospice care (OR = 3.06). Among the modifiable factors, greater perceived barriers increased the likelihood of CPR preference (OR = 1.12) but decreased the likelihood of hospice care preference (OR = 0.96). Greater perceived benefits decreased the likelihood of CPR preference (OR = 0.81) and ventilation support (OR = 0.89), and AD knowledge decreased the likelihood of haemodialysis preference (OR = 0.23).
CONCLUSION: The multidimensional factors were differently associated with each of the AD treatment preferences. Modifiable factors, including perceived barriers and benefits and knowledge, should be improved to help low-income, community-dwelling older people select adequate AD treatment preferences.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Additional information regarding AD treatments and some modifiable and non-modifiable correlates can be integrated into primary and palliative/supportive care in public health. The current home visitation service may also benefit from incorporating AD discussions while extending the service to embrace AD issues in addition to disease management.
LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) older adults are more likely than their heterosexual peers to age with limited support in stigmatizing environments often poorly served by traditional social services challenging their preparedness for end of life. Fourteen focus groups and three individual interviews were conducted in five Canadian cities with gay/bisexual men (5 groups; 40 participants), lesbian/bisexual women (5 groups; 29 participants), and transgender persons (3 interviews, 4 groups; 24 participants). Four superordinate themes were identified: (a) motivators and obstacles, (b) relationship concerns, (c) dynamics of LGBT culture and lives, and (d) institutional concerns. Several pressing issues emerged including depression and isolation (more common among gay and bisexual men), financial/class issues (lesbian and bisexual women), and uncomfortable interactions with health-care providers (transgender participants). These findings highlight the challenges and complexities in end-of-life preparation within LGBT communities.
CONTEXT: Identifying the seriously ill population is integral to improving the value of health care. Efforts to identify this population using existing data are anchored to a list of severe medical conditions (SMCs) using diagnostic codes. Published approaches have utilized International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes, which has since been replaced by ICD-10.
OBJECTIVES: We translated SMCs from ICD-9 to ICD-10 using a refined code list. We aimed to test the hypothesis that people identified by ICD-9 or ICD-10 codes would have similar Medicare costs, healthcare utilization, and mortality.
METHODS: Using data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study linked to Medicare claims, we compared samples from periods using ICD-9 (2014) and ICD-10 (2016). We included participants with 6-months of fee-for-service Medicare data before their interview date who had a SMC identified within that period. We compared the groups' demographic, functional, and medical characteristics, and followed them for six months to compare outcomes.
RESULTS: Among subjects in the 2016 (ICD-10) sample, 19.9% were hospitalized, 24.6% used the emergency department, 7.2% died, and average Medicare spending totaled $9,902.04 over six months of follow-up. We observed no significant differences between the 2014 and 2016 samples (p>0.05); both samples represent 18% of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries.
CONCLUSION: Identifying the seriously ill population using currently available data requires using ICD-10 to define SMCs. Routine measurement of function, quality of life and caregiver strain will further enhance the identification process and efficiently target palliative care services and appropriate quality measures.
Policy Points: We identified two overarching classifications of integrated geriatric and palliative care to maximize older people's quality of life at the end of life. Both are oriented to person-centered care, but with differing emphasis on either function or symptoms and concerns. Policymakers should both improve access to palliative care beyond just the last months of life and increase geriatric care provision to maintain and optimize function. This would ensure that continuity and coordination for potentially complex care needs across the continuum of late life would be maintained, where the demarcation of boundaries between healthy aging and healthy dying become increasingly blurred. Our findings highlight the urgent need for health system change to improve end-of-life care as part of universal health coverage. The use of health services should be informed by the likelihood of benefits and intended outcomes rather than on prognosis.
CONTEXT: In an era of unprecedented global aging, a key priority is to align health and social services for older populations in order to support the dual priorities of living well while adapting to a gradual decline in function. We aimed to provide a comprehensive synthesis of evidence regarding service delivery models that optimize the quality of life (QoL) for older people at the end of life across health, social, and welfare services worldwide.
METHODS: We conducted a rapid scoping review of systematic reviews. We searched MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, and CDSR databases from 2000 to 2017 for reviews reporting the effectiveness of service models aimed at optimizing QoL for older people, more than 50% of whom were older than 60 and in the last one or two years of life. We assessed the quality of these included reviews using AMSTAR and synthesized the findings narratively.
RESULTS: Of the 2,238 reviews identified, we included 72, with 20 reporting meta-analysis. Although all the World Health Organization (WHO) regions were represented, most of the reviews reported data from the Americas (52 of 72), Europe (46 of 72), and/or the Western Pacific (28 of 72). We identified two overarching classifications of service models but with different target outcomes: Integrated Geriatric Care, emphasizing physical function, and Integrated Palliative Care, focusing mainly on symptoms and concerns. Areas of synergy across the overarching classifications included person-centered care, education, and a multiprofessional workforce. The reviews assessed 117 separate outcomes. A meta-analysis demonstrated effectiveness for both classifications on QoL, including symptoms such as pain, depression, and psychological well-being. Economic analysis and its implications were poorly considered.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite their different target outcomes, those service models classified as Integrated Geriatric Care or Integrated Palliative Care were effective in improving QoL for older people nearing the end of life. Both approaches highlight the imperative for integrating services across the care continuum, with service involvement triggered by the patient's needs and likelihood of benefits. To inform the sustainability of health system change we encourage economic analyses that span health and social care and examine all sources of finance to understand contextual inequalities.
BACKGROUND: Few studies exist regarding the perception of medical students toward older adults' wishes during their end-of-life period. Better understanding of students' perceptions regarding this topic could help improve palliative education. The purposes of this study were to examine the perceptions of medical students regarding what constitutes a "good death" and to demonstrate the factors associated with the necessary care decisions in older patients.
METHODS: This is a cross-sectional study. A questionnaire was developed and given to all of the medical students at two medical schools in Thailand (Siriraj and Srinagarind Hospital) from September 2017 to February 2018. They were asked to response to the questions by imagining how older people would think, and their preferences regarding care at the end-of-life period. The anonymous questionnaires were collected and analyzed.
RESULTS: A total of 1029 out of 2990 surveys were returned (34.4%). A minority of the sixth-year medical students rated themselves as being knowledgeable about palliative care (11.3%). According to the survey, desire to have spiritual needs met and have their loved ones present were the most important conditions that contributed to a "good death". Factors associated with reluctance to receive prolonged treatment were female sex (adjusted odds ratio (AOR 1.39), being in the clinical years of training (AOR 1.92), self-rated good health (AOR 1.45), and prior experience of watching someone dying (AOR 1.61). Enrollment in Srinagarind medical school (AOR 2.05), being a clinical student (AOR1.91), and being dissatisfied with life (AOR 1.78) were independent factors related to preference for home death.
CONCLUSIONS: Most medical students signified understanding of concepts of geriatric palliative care but felt that they had insufficient knowledge in this area. Multiple factors related to decision regarding the care that was required were identified. Medical schools should consider this information to improve geriatric palliative medical education in undergraduate training.
Introduction: Emergency department (ED)-initiated palliative care has been shown to improve patient-centred outcomes in older adults with serious, life-limiting illnesses. However, the optimal modality for providing such interventions is unknown. This study aims to compare nurse-led telephonic case management to specialty outpatient palliative care for older adults with serious, life-limiting illness on: (1) quality of life in patients; (2) healthcare utilisation; (3) loneliness and symptom burden and (4) caregiver strain, caregiver quality of life and bereavement.
Methods and analysis: This is a protocol for a pragmatic, multicentre, parallel, two-arm randomised controlled trial in ED patients comparing two established models of palliative care: nurse-led telephonic case management and specialty, outpatient palliative care. We will enrol 1350 patients aged 50+ years and 675 of their caregivers across nine EDs. Eligible patients: (1) have advanced cancer (metastatic solid tumour) or end-stage organ failure (New York Heart Association class III or IV heart failure, end-stage renal disease with glomerular filtration rate <15 mL/min/m2, or global initiative for chronic obstructive lung disease stage III, IV or oxygen-dependent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); (2) speak English; (3) are scheduled for ED discharge or observation status; (4) reside locally; (5) have a working telephone and (6) are insured. Patients will be excluded if they: (1) have dementia; (2) have received hospice care or two or more palliative care visits in the last 6 months or (3) reside in a long-term care facility. We will use patient-level block randomisation, stratified by ED site and disease. Effectiveness will be compared by measuring the impact of each intervention on the specified outcomes. The primary outcome will measure change in patient quality of life.
Ethics and dissemination Institutional Review Board approval was obtained at all study sites. Trial results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
Family members are often involved in medical decision-making on behalf of a nursing home resident. Prospect theory provides a framework for understanding how people weigh decisions. In the current study, prospect theory concepts are used to build understanding about how family members weigh medical decisions for an NH resident diagnosed with cancer. This is a secondary analysis of qualitative interview data from 24 family members of nursing home residents. Prospect theory concepts of gain, loss, risk, and reference point were used deductively in qualitative content analysis. Themes were developed by comparing content related to these four concepts, across the transcripts from the 24 participants. Three themes comprise the main findings, including "Don't prolong this," "A good ending is a gain," and "Experience can facilitate seeing the big picture." Prospect theory concepts applied to decisions faced by family members were useful in building an understanding of what participants considered as gains, losses, risks, and reference points. Many participants framed the medical decisions within the larger context of the resident's life and concluded that jeopardizing the chance for a peaceful dying process was too high a risk. Medical interventions were selected or avoided because of the impact on a comfortable dying process; considered a gain. Advance care planning discussions and goals of care discussions can benefit by directly addressing what residents/patients, families, and health practitioners consider outcomes worth pursuing and avoiding.
OBJECTIVE: To identify factors related to decisional conflict among surrogate decision makers for home medical care (HMC) patients.
DESIGN: Prospective Cohort Study.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: For older patients receiving HMC from four different primary care clinics in Japan from January 2016 to June 2017, we studied the family member with the main potential for surrogate decision making.
MEASUREMENTS: At the baseline, surrogates filled out a baseline questionnaire on their characteristics and decision readiness, while the attending doctors provided information about the patients' characteristics. Patient-and-surrogate pairs were tracked for up to six months after the baseline or for three months in the case of death, hospitalization, or admittance to a nursing home. After this tracking, surrogates filled out a follow-up questionnaire on their decision-making experiences, including decisional conflict.
RESULTS: Of the original 159 patient-and-surrogate pairs, 121 (76.1%) responded to the follow-up questionnaire. During the follow-up period, 32 patients (26.4% of the patients followed up) died and 69 (57.0%) experienced decision making. Among surrogates who made decisions, the mean score of decisional conflict was 36.2 (standard deviation 14.7), and 43.5% were above the threshold relating to decision delay. Anticipatory guidance and discussion on the patient's care goals at the beginning of HMC were the two variables significantly associated with less decisional conflict of surrogates.
CONCLUSIONS: Families felt less conflict with surrogate decision making if they had participated in previous discussions with doctors regarding the patients' care goals. Early-stage anticipatory guidance and discussion are a good opportunity for families to prepare for surrogate decision making.
OBJECTIVE: Older people approaching the end of life are at high risk for adverse drug reactions. Approaching end of life should change the therapeutic aims, triggering a reduction in the number of drugs. The main aim of this study was to describe the preventive and symptomatic drug treatments prescribed to patients discharged from internal medicine and geriatric wards, with limited life expectancy. The secondary aim was to describe the potentially severe DDIs.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We analyzed Registry of Polytherapies Societa Italiana di Medicina Interna (REPOSI), a network of internal medicine and geriatric wards, to describe the drug therapy of patients discharged with limited life expectancy.
RESULTS: The study sample comprised 55 patients discharged with limited life expectancy. Patients with at least one preventive medication that could be considered for de-prescription at end-of-life were significantly fewer from admission to discharge (30; 54.5% and 21; 38.2%, p = 0.02). ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers, lipid-lowering drugs and clonidine were the most frequent potentially avoidable medications prescribed at discharge, followed by xanthine oxidase inhibitors and drugs to prevent fractures. Thirty-seven (67.3%) patients were also exposed to at least one potentially severe drug-drug interaction at discharge.
CONCLUSION: Hospital discharge is associated with small reductions in the use of commonly prescribed preventive medications in patients discharged with limited life expectancy. Cardiovascular drugs are the most frequent potentially avoidable preventive medications. A consensus framework, or shared criteria for potentially inappropriate medication in elderly patients with limited life expectancy could be useful to further improve drug prescription.