Background: Advance care planning (ACP) is a process in which professionals, patients and their relatives discuss wishes and options for future care. ACP in the palliative phase reduces the chance that decisions have to be taken suddenly and can therefore improve the quality of life and death. The primary aim of this study is to explore how ACP takes place in cases of people with intellectual disabilities (ID).
Method: Medical files were analysed, and interviews were held in six care organisations for people with mild to severe ID. The data concerned people with ID (n = 30), 15 in the palliative phase, identified using the 'surprise question', and 15 who had died after an identifiable period of illness. Additional pre-structured telephone interviews were conducted with their relatives (n = 30) and professionals (n = 33).
Results: For half of the people with ID who had died, the first report in their file about palliative care (needs) was less than 1 month before their death. Professionals stated that ACP was started in response to the person's deteriorating health situation. A do-not-attempt-resuscitation order was recorded for nearly all people with ID (93%). A smaller group also had other agreements between professionals and relatives documented in their files, mainly about potentially life-sustaining treatments (43%) and/or hospitalisation admissions (47%). Relatives and professionals are satisfied with the mutual cooperation in ACP in the palliative phase. Cognitive and communication disabilities were most frequently mentioned by relatives and professionals as reasons for not involving people with ID in ACP.
Conclusions: Advance care planning in the palliative phase of people with ID focuses mainly on medical issues at the end of life. Specific challenges concern a proactive identification of changing needs, fear to initiate ACP discussions, documentation of ACP in medical files and the involvement of people with ID in ACP. It is recommended that relatives and professionals should be informed about the content of ACP and professionals should be trained in communicating in advance about wishes for future care.
The convergence of medical treatment that can extend life with written medical orders that make it possible to refuse such treatment brings the differential dynamics of contemporary end-of-life decision making into sharp focus. Communication between families and clinicians can be confusing, uncertain, and pressured when death is imminent. These situations create distress that ultimately influences the end-of-life experience for people who are dying and those who care for them. This article presents the analysis of the decisional dynamics that emerge from the intersection of the patient-family-provider awareness that death is near with the presence or absence of documentation of expressed wishes for end-of-life care. A heuristic analysis was conducted with data from three studies about urgent decision making at the end of life. Original study data included 395 surveys, in-depth interviews with 91 prehospital (paramedics and emergency medical technicians), and content analysis of 100 Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment forms that led to the development of an overarching conceptual model of decision making. Four decisional contexts emerged from the intersection of awareness of dying and documentation of wishes: 1) Aware Documented, 2) Aware Undocumented, 3) Unaware Documented, and 4) Unaware Undocumented. This generalizable model, which is agnostic of setting, can help clinicians more astutely recognize the clinical situation when death is imminent, assess patients and caregivers, and intervene to help focus conversation and direct decision making. The model can also inform research, education, and care for people in some of the most vulnerable moments of life.
Head and neck cancer affects vital functions of speech, swallowing, breathing, and appearance. Overall survival remains poor and symptom burden is high for both patients with incurable disease at the end of life and for long-term survivors. Early and concurrent palliative care helps guide treatment decision making and support quality of life during and after treatment. Both narrative competence and directive counsel can affect the concordance of patient goals and tolerance of treatment and outcomes.
Providing care to cancer patients in resource-poor settings often demands complex trade-offs regarding resource allocation. It is estimated that over 60% of all cancer deaths worldwide occur in low- and middle-income countries, where channels to care and appropriate symptom management interventions are overstressed or obsolete. Concepts of distributive justice underlie much of global health policy. As appetites for expanding global palliative care services increase, so do questions of fair and culturally appropriate distribution. The ethical principle of distributive justice underpins questions of resource allocation at a fundamental level. One of the most challenging concepts for health care workers immersing in cross-cultural contexts is the idea that ethics are somewhat malleable; they shape and are shaped by the unique sociopolitical, economic, intracultural, and power dynamics of a particular setting. In this article, we use the case of a young woman diagnosed with terminal cancer in an underserved community in rural Uganda to illustrate the conflicting concepts of fairness, which dictate distribution of scarce resources in low- and middle-income countries. Notions of distributive justice vary across cultural, societal, and even individual norms, with some definitions allowing for discrimination based on merit or need. Resource allocation in the absence of cultural humility or a genuine willingness to understand decision-making priorities in a given culture can contribute to inequity and may have harmful consequences.
Proper patient selection for palliative surgery requires a challenging and often complex decision-making process. Optimally, proposed palliative procedures must be undertaken with an intent to provide the greatest possible value to patients at the end of life. This review describes the process of patient selection and identifies psychosocial, biochemical, and functional markers that can complement sound surgical judgment.
Background: We aimed to explore the shared decision-making context at the limit of viability (weeks 22-25 of gestation) through analyzing neonatologist's communication strategies with parents and their possible impact on survival and neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) outcomes.
Methods: A mixed methods approach was applied where a systematic literature search and in-depth semi-structured interviews with five heads of neonatology departments and one clinical ethicist from the Austrian context were integrated into a literature review. The aim was to identify decision practice models and the choice context specific to Austria.
Results: Professional biases, parental understanding, and the process of information giving were identified as aspects possibly influencing survival and NDI outcomes. Institutions create self-fulfilling prophecies by recommending intensive/palliative care based upon their institutional statistics, yet those vary considerably among high-income countries. Labelling an extremely preterm (EP) infant by the gestational week was shown to skew the estimates for survival while the process of information giving was shown to be subject to framing effect and other cognitive biases.
Conclusion: Communication strategies of choice options to parents may have an impact on the way parents decide and hence also on the outcomes of EP infants.
Introduction: Advanced directives enable the planning of care and support services independent of the older person's ability to make the decision. There is a paucity of information regarding the views and preferences regarding advanced directives and other end of life issues among older persons in low and middle-income countries such as Nigeria. The study aimed to explore the knowledge, attitude and belief of older persons regarding decision making surrounding end of life and advance directives.
Methods: Data were collected through focus group discussions at a monthly social gathering of outpatients in a geriatric center in Oyo State, Nigeria. Discussions were audiotaped, transcribed and analyzed manually using a thematic approach.
Results: Respondents' knowledge about the end of life care and advanced directives as prescribed in high income settings were sparse and did not include choices about treatment options or any medical directives. The predominant perceptions among the participants bordered mainly on the arrangements for place of death, burial and property sharing. Participants listed in order of preference the major decision makers in the advanced directive process mainly, the oldest male child, religious leaders and legal practitioners.
Conclusion: Our findings imply the need for improving knowledge and awareness about the benefits of advanced directives among older persons with a focus on opportunities for their active participation.
Objective: To improve patient participation in advance care planning in nursing homes where most patients have some degree of cognitive impairment.
Methods: This was a pair-matched cluster randomized clinical trial with eight wards in eight Norwegian nursing homes. We randomized one ward from each of the matched pairs to the intervention group. We included all patients above 70. The primary outcome was prevalence of documented patient participation in end-of-life treatment conversations. The intervention included implementation support using a whole-ward approach where regular staff perform advance care planning and invite all patients and next of kin to participate.
Results: In intervention group wards the patients participated more often in end-of-life treatment conversations (p < 0.001). Moreover, the patient's preferences, hopes AND worries (p = 0,006) were more often documented, and concordance between provided TREATMENT and patient preferences (p = 0,037) and next of kin participation in advance care planning with the patient (p = 0,056) increased.
Conclusion: Improved patient participation - also when cognitively impaired - is achievable through advance care planning in nursing homes using a whole-ward approach.
Practice implications: Patients with cognitive impairment should be included in advance care planning supported by next of kin. A whole-ward approach may be used to implement advance care planning.
Objectif : Dans la législation suisse, les directives anticipées sont conçues comme instrument permettant au futur patient de faire respecter sa volonté par rapport à de potentiels traitements médicaux. Comment et avec quels effets ces directives anticipées sont-elles perçues et utilisées dans la pratique par les acteurs qui entourent le patient dans les situations de fin de vie en établissement médicosocial et à domicile ? Des entretiens collectifs ont été menés dans trois régions linguistiques de la Suisse avec des médecins (12), des infirmiers (11) et des proches (six et trois entretiens).
Résultats : Une analyse de contenu montre que les directives anticipées sont souvent utilisées comme levier permettant l’ouverture d’un dialogue sur la fin de vie dans une perspective d’autodétermination du patient. Leur mise en œuvre par contre est difficile dans les situations à domicile car les proches portent la responsabilité de leur application alors qu’elle l’est moins en établissement médicosocial où la présence des soignants rend la prise de décision plus diffuse. Ainsi, le poids de l’autodétermination du patient que le législateur concevait être en priorité vis-à-vis du pouvoir médical est principalement porté par les proches et les soignants.
Conclusion : Des améliorations dans l’information et la communication entre les acteurs, des pistes d’action proposées par nos interviewés, ne suffisent pas. Une réflexion plus globale sur la manière dont ces directives s’implémentent dans les situations de fin de vie tendent à montrer que les résultats escomptés par le législateur, soit une amélioration de l’autodétermination du patient, ne sont pas atteints.
BACKGROUND: Many decisions are made by patients in their last months of life, creating complex decision-making needs for these individuals. Identifying whether currently existing patient decision aids address the full range of these patient decision-making needs will better inform end-of-life decision support in clinical practice.
AIMS AND DESIGN: This systematic review aimed to (a) identify the range of patients' decision-making needs and (b) assess the extent to which patient decision aids address these needs.
DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, PsycINFO and CINAHL electronic literature databases were searched (January 1990-January 2017), supplemented by hand-searching strategies. Eligible literature reported patient decision-making needs throughout end-of-life decision-making or were evaluations of patient decision aids. Identified decision aid content was mapped onto and assessed against all patient decision-making needs that were deemed 'addressable'.
RESULTS: Twenty-two studies described patient needs, and seven end-of-life patient decision aids were identified. Patient needs were categorised, resulting in 48 'addressable' needs. Mapping needs to patient decision aid content showed that 17 patient needs were insufficiently addressed by current patient decision aids. The most substantial gaps included inconsistent acknowledgement, elicitation and documentation of how patient needs varied individually for the level of information provided, the extent patients wanted to participate in decision-making, and the extent they wanted their families and associated healthcare professionals to participate.
CONCLUSION: Patient decision-making needs are broad and varied. Currently developed patient decision aids are insufficiently addressing patient decision-making needs. Improving future end-of-life patient decision aid content through five key suggestions could improve patient-focused decision-making support at the end of life.
Introduction: Older patients with hip fracture have a 20% to 30% mortality rate in the year after surgery. Nonoperative care has higher 1-year mortality rates and is generally only pursued in those with an extraordinarily high surgical risk. As the population ages, more patients with hip fracture may fall into this category. The orthopedic surgeon is typically the main consultant responsible for deciding between surgery and conservative management, and the reasoning behind one decision over the other is often poorly understood. We undertook a review to determine decision-making tools for surgery in high-risk patients with hip fracture.
Materials and Methods: A review was conducted using PubMed to determine articles published using the terms palliative care, conservative care, nonoperative, hip fracture, orthopedic procedures, fracture fixation, and surgery. Our search resulted in 13 articles to review. These were further screened to determine tools for use in surgical decision-making.
Results: Several potential decision-making tools were found in our search. The potential tools to identify patients who would benefit from nonoperative treatment included the Palliative Performance Scale for severe dementia, the Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living and Katz Activities of Daily Living scales for prefracture immobility, a combination of clinical signs and laboratory tests to determine risk of imminent death, and the Charlson Comorbidity Score for additional serious comorbidities. No tools have been prospectively tested in a clinical setting.
Discussion: Evaluation of each patient using a variety of decision making tools should help the orthopedic surgeon determine which patients would be better suited to non-operative management. After determining the benefit of non-operative care, they must effectively allow the fracture to heal while ameliorating pain. Palliative care physicians can fulfill this role by providing support and symptom relief.
Conclusions: Surgical decision-making for hip fracture repair in the elderly patients is not straight forward. Several tools may be helpful to the surgeon in determining who may be better suited for nonoperative care or a palliative care referral. Prospective data do not exist in these decision-making tools.
For a growing number of persons with dementia (PWDs), advance care planning (ACP) can help families make important end-of-life (EOL) care decisions that reflect PWDs' values and preferences. The current exploratory study aimed to understand advance directive planning and decision making among PWDs and caregivers. A survey was conducted with a convenience sample of 47 ethnically diverse PWD caregivers recruited from rural health care facilities in Southwest Texas. Sixty-eight percent of PWDs and caregivers were Hispanic. The majority of PWDs had completed an advance directive (60%) and preferred equally shared decision making between family (including the PWD) and physicians (57%). Under a hypothetical EOL scenario for PWDs, caregivers chose comfort (40%) and palliative care treatment (55%) more than other goals and treatment options. In this scenario, Hispanic PWDs were less likely than non-Hispanic White counterparts to complete an advance directive (48% vs. 81%, p < 0.05) and to choose only pain and symptom management (46% vs. 81%, p < 0.05). Although the overall ACP rates among rural PWDs may be comparable to those for the general PWD population, ethnic differences exist. More culturally competent education efforts are needed to promote ACP among PWDs in culturally diverse rural communities.
Background: Advanced care planning (ACP) is a process that involves thinking about what medical care one would like should individuals be seriously ill and cannot communicate decisions about treatment for themselves. The literature indicates that ACP leads to increased satisfaction from both patients and healthcare professionals. Despite the well-known benefits of ACP, it is still underutilised in Australia.
Methods: The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of normalising ACP in acute and community settings with the use of specially trained normalisation agents. This is a quasi-experimental study, involving 16 sites (8 intervention and 8 control) in two health districts in Australia. A minimum of total 288 participants will be recruited (144 intervention, 144 control). We will train four registered nurses as normalisation agents in the intervention sites, who will promote and facilitate ACP discussions with adult patients with chronic conditions in hospital and community settings. An audit of the prevalence of ACP and Advanced Care Directives (ACDs) will be conducted before and after the 6-month intervention period at the 16 sites to assess the effects of the ACP service delivered by these agents. We will also collect interview and survey data from patients and families who participate, and healthcare professionals who are involved in this service to capture their experiences with ACP.
Discussion: This study will potentially contribute to better patient outcomes with their health care services. Completion of ACDs will allow patients to express their wishes for care and receive the care that they wish for, as well as ease their family from the burden of making difficult decisions. The study will contribute to development of a new best practice model to normalise ACP that is sustainable and transferable in the processes of: 1) initiation of conversation; 2) discussion of important issues; 3) documentation of the wishes; 4) storage of the documented wishes; and 5) access and execution of the documented wishes. The study will generate new evidence on the challenges, strategies and benefits of normalising ACP into practice in acute and community settings.
General practitioners (GPs) play a key role in the timely diagnosis of dementia and also in advance care planning (ACP). They often have known patients and their families for decades and are familiar with their values and treatment preferences; they are, therefore, in a position to initiate the ACP process even before the appearance of the first symptoms of dementia and certainly following disclosure of the diagnosis. To do so, they should recognise whether patients are receptive to an ACP consultation or whether they might reject it for personal, social or cultural reasons. Under no circumstances should the patient or their family be coerced into making these provisions. In most countries, the current framework does not provide enough time and money for GPs to carry out actual ACP consultations completely on their own. There is evidence that specially trained health professionals are able to more effectively discuss treatment goals and limits of life-prolonging measures than GPs who are well acquainted with their patients. Consequently, we suggest that it will be the GPs' task to seize the right moment for starting an ACP process, to raise awareness of patients and their relatives about ACP, to test the patient's decision-making capacity and, finally, to involve appropriately trained healthcare professionals in the actual ACP consultation process. Care should be taken that these professionals delivering time-intensive ACP consultations are not only able to reflect on the patient's values but are also familiar with the course of the disease, the expected complications and the decisions that can be anticipated. The GP will ensure an active exchange with the ACP professional and should have access to the documentation drawn up in the ACP consultation process (treatment plan and advance directive including instructions for medical emergencies) as soon as possible. GPs as coordinators of healthcare provision should document appropriately all specialists involved in the care and ensure that treatment decisions are implemented in accordance with the patient's preferences for future care or the presumed will of the patient.
Background: Family members are involved in the decision-making process of advance care planning (ACP). However, there is limited evidence about how family caregiving situations affect engagement in ACP.
Objective: To understand how agreement on caregiving situations and caregiving burdens are predictive of engagement in ACP of older adults.
Design: Cross-sectional secondary data.
Setting/Subjects: Subjects were nationally representative of adults ages 65 or older from the National Health and Aging Trends Study.
Measurements: Informal engagement in ACP was measured based on whether respondents had discussed an end-of-life care option. The study involving formal engagement in ACP asked whether respondents have completed durable powers of attorney or living wills. Family members' agreement on caregiving situations and caregiving burdens were used to measure caregiving situations. We also include sociodemographic and health-related variables.
Results: Higher levels of disagreement between family members concerning care for older adults were associated with engagement in formal ACP (odds ratio [OR] = 0.5); there were higher levels of caregiver burdens with engagement in formal ACP (OR = 1.1). The factors of being age 85 or older (OR = 2.2) and having fallen down in the previous year (OR = 1.9) were also related to formal engagement in ACP. Being white and having high school diplomas were associated with both informal and formal engagement in ACP.
Conclusions: Caregiving situations may affect care recipients' decision-making regarding informal and formal engagement in ACP in different ways, suggesting different intervention strategies for different types of ACP.
In the United States, the adult population that will need hospice and palliative care is expected to double in the next 40 years. In primary care, providers are often faced with tough decisions on how to manage patients' medications at the end of life. This article describes how to deprescribe in the last year of life.
BACKGROUND: Advance care planning (ACP) is identified as being an important process for people with dementia. However, its efficacy for improving outcomes relevant for the individual, carers and the health system has yet to be established.AimWe conducted a systematic review with the aims of testing the efficacy of ACP for people with dementia and describing the settings and population in which it has been evaluated.
METHODS: A search was completed of electronic databases in August 2016. Articles were included if they described interventions aimed at increasing planning for future care of people with dementia, delivered to the person with dementia, their carers and/or health professionals.
RESULTS: Of 4,772 articles returned by searches, 30 met the inclusion criteria, testing interventions in nursing home (n= 16) community (n = 10) and acute care (n = 4) settings. Only 18 interventions directly involved the person with dementia, with the remainder focusing on surrogate decision-makers. In all settings, interventions were found effective in increasing ACP practice. In nursing homes, ACP was found to influence care and increase the concordance between end of life wishes and care provided. Interventions in the community were found to improve patient quality of life but were not shown to influence concordance.
CONCLUSION: Future research should focus on ways to involve people with dementia in decision-making through supported means.
We report the case of a 55-year-old woman who required extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for extreme respiratory distress after a liver transplant and eventually died. As is so often the case, this patient's values and wishes were not documented before she had a risky surgical procedure. Anesthesiologists, in partnership with surgeons, can participate in preoperative discussions exploring wishes and values and document them in advance directives which will help clinicians respect patients' preferences.