Purpose: The aim of this study was to gain more insight into the psychosocial well-being of the recently bereaved spouses who took care of their partners with cancer.
Method: A qualitative study was developed, taking a phenomenological approach. Eleven former caregivers and spouses of patients who died of cancer at, or after, the age of 64, participated in individual in-depth interviews. Only caregivers who were bereaved for a minimum of three months and maximum of one year were interviewed. The analysis of the data was based on the Qualitative Analysis Guide of Leuven.
Results: The first moments of bereavement included feelings of disbelief, regret and relief. A feeling of being overwhelmed during this time was reported by some, others sought distraction from their grief. Loneliness, emotional fluctuations and a sense of appreciation for the support of loved ones were dominant themes. Also, gratitude and the importance of consolation played a role in the participants' well-being. When participants addressed the matter of moving forward in life, most explained how they wanted to keep the memories of their partner alive while rebuilding their lives.
Conclusions: The present study offers insight into the experiences of the bereaved spousal caregiver and highlights the need of social support during the bereavement period. All participants expressed loss-oriented and restoration-oriented coping strategies. Also, loneliness is considered a dominant feeling throughout the bereavement period. Social contact can ease these feelings of loneliness through providing either distraction or possibilities to share the burden. This paper emphasized the importance of improving access to healthcare professionals during bereavement.
Background: The assessment of patients’ quality of life (QOL) is essential when evaluating the outcome of palliative care; however, no instruments have been validated for measuring symptoms and QOL in patients receiving palliative care in Chile. We aimed to investigate the content validity of the EORTC Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 15 Palliative Care (QLQ-C15-PAL), replicating the methods used previously to shorten the EORTC Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30 (QLQ-C30) for use among patients in palliative care.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted from October to November 2017 in four palliative care services. Patients with advanced cancer and health care professionals (HCPs) were invited to individual interviews to determine the relevance, appropriateness and relative importance of the 30 items of the QLQ-C30 for evaluating the outcome of palliative care, and whether relevant additional issues should be included.
Results: A total of 48 patients and 35 HCPs participated. The most important dimensions selected were pain, physical functioning, sleeping difficulties, emotional functioning, nausea/vomiting, fatigue, social functioning, lack of appetite, role functioning and constipation. Qualitative data identified important additional issues not covered by the questionnaire such as satisfaction with care, emotions and psychological support, as well as linguistic issues in the dyspnea and constipation items.
Conclusions: The EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL showed good content validity in the assessment of symptoms and QOL of advanced cancer patients; therefore, we recommend the use of this questionnaire in palliative care in Chile. Dyspnea and constipation items were revised by the EORTC group. More research is needed to add a social dimension for a comprehensive assessment of patients’ QOL.
The number of children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions is increasing, requiring an individualized approach and additional supportive care. The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for pediatric palliative care to be available to all children who would benefit. High quality pediatric palliative care is essential for these children. Collaborative team-based methods focused on improving quality of life have shown to improve outcomes in physical, emotional, and cognitive domains. Palliative care involvement at the time of diagnosis rather than just at the end of life has moved coordinated care upstream. All clinicians can and should deliver palliative care. The Joint Commission recommends having patient-centered palliative care services available for children, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is reimbursing clinicians for this coordinated care. This article details how all pediatric clinicians can positively influence the care of seriously ill children by incorporating palliative care principles into their daily care, resulting in better outcomes for their patients and families.
Context: In end-of-life care, rehabilitation for cancer patients is considered to be an important means for improving patients’ quality of death and dying (QODD).
Objectives: To determine whether the provision of rehabilitation for cancer patients in palliative care units is associated with the achievement of a good death.
Methods: This study involved a cross-sectional, anonymous, self-report questionnaire survey of families of cancer patients who died in palliative care units in Japan. We evaluated the Good Death Inventory (GDI) short version on a 7-point scale. A logistic regression model was used to calculate the propensity score. Covariates included in this model were survey year, patients’ characteristics, and families’ characteristics. The associations between rehabilitation and GDI were tested using trend tests after propensity score matching adjustment.
Results: Of the 1,965 family caregivers who received the questionnaires, available data was obtained from 1,008 respondents (51.2%). Among them, 285 (28.2%) cases received rehabilitation in palliative care units. There was no difference in total GDI score between the groups with and without rehabilitation. In exploratory analyses, patients receiving rehabilitation were significantly more likely to feel “maintaining hope and pleasure” (mean = 4.50 [standard error = 0.10] vs. 4.05 [0.11], respectively; effect size (ES)= 0.31; p-value = 0.003), “good relationships with medical staff,” (5.67 [0.07] vs. 5.43 [0.09], respectively; ES= 0.22; p-value = 0.035) and “being respected as an individual” (6.08 [0.06] vs. 5.90 [0.07], respectively; ES=0.19;p-value = 0.049) compared with patients not receiving rehabilitation.
Conclusion: Rehabilitation in palliative care units may contribute to several domains of QODD, particularly “maintaining hope and pleasure”. Further research is needed to investigate whether palliative rehabilitation contribute to the achievement of a good death.
Temporality, occupation, and relationships are identified as discrete factors that impact quality of life for individuals at the end of life and those around them. However, scholars, practitioners, and educators require insights regarding whether and how interactions between these factors shape this quality of life. This study is framed by an understanding that meaning is negotiated between people through social interaction and occupational engagement in temporal contexts. We conducted in-depth interviews with 9 patients and 10 family members, incorporating the Pictor visual elicitation technique. Analysis was conducted through an iterative process involving open and selective coding. Findings are described as three main processes: (a) experiences of temporal rupture, (b) diminished significance of clock time, and (c) shifts in occupational priorities. Participants’ perspectives may help carers understand how to foster positive temporal experiences and quality of life for patients and those who love them.
Background: It is important to understand the total burden of COPD and thereby be able to identify patients who need more intensive palliative care to avoid deteriorated quality of life. The aim of this study was to describe the psychosocial and demographic characteristics of a population with advanced COPD in a stable phase of the disease.
Methods: This study was cross-sectional based on a prospective observational cohort. The following questionnaires were administered: Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire (CRQ), The COPD Assessment Test (CAT), The Hospital and Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), The Medical Research Council dyspnoea scale (MRC), and self-rate general health.
Results: We included 242 patients with advanced COPD from a Danish pulmonary outpatient clinic. Their mean FEV1 was 38% (±12.7) and 19% were treated with long term oxygen. The mean CRQ domain score was CRQ-dyspnea 4.21 (±1.4), CRQ-Mastery 4.88 (±1.3), CRQ-Emotional 4.81 (±1.2), CRQ-Fatigue 3.93 (±1.3). The mean CAT-score was 18.4 (± 6.7), and 44% had a CAT score > 20. The mean score on the subscale for anxiety (HADS-A) and depression (HADS-D) was 5.07 (±3.9) and 5.77 (±3.9), respectively. Thirty percent self-rated their health as bad or very bad and 19.8% were current smokers.
Conclusions: This study describes the characteristics of a population with advanced COPD in a stable phase of their disease. Our results illustrate how the population although treated in an outpatient structure already focusing on palliative needs, still live with unmet palliative needs and impaired quality of life.
Palliative care improves communication, symptom control, and support for patients and their families, resulting in an improved quality of life and survival outcomes. The concept of palliative care has been evolving over time; traditionally limited to an oncology population, palliative care is now recommended for all patients living with serious or life-limiting illness. Palliative care can be used to anticipate, prevent, and manage physical, psychological, social, and spiritual suffering and can be delivered in any care setting to optimize quality of life of patients, families, and care providers.
Due to cultural traditions, most Taiwanese do not have an advance directive or healthcare proxy. We explored how patients with mild dementia in Taiwan may still make self-determined decisions concerning advance directives for their healthcare and end-of-life care choices as the disease progresses. We examined 260 respondents with mild dementia at a Taiwan medical center: 199 patients who agreed (and 61 patients who disagreed) with the concept of advance directives completed a structured questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression models to determine the between-group differences revealed that the following were positively associated with approval of end-of-life directives: maintaining one's quality of life (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.44; 95% CI: 1.07-5.53), discussion with family members (AOR, 3.50; 95% CI: 1.49-8.26), and friend support networks (AOR, 3.36; 95% CI: 1.34-8.43). Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (AOR, 0.27; 95% CI: 0.09-0.79) was negatively associated with approval. There was also a positive association between the support of the legal validity of end-of-life directives (OR, 1.93; 95% CI: 1.07-3.48), without other confounding factors. In Taiwanese society, we remain mindful of cultural influences that may impact patients, including maintaining one's quality of life, discussion with family members, and friend/support networks. These influences may help dementia patients complete their advance directives.
Background: When family caregivers are involved in patient care, both patients and caregivers experience better clinical outcomes. However, caregivers experience communication difficulties as they navigate a complex health care system and interact with health care providers. Research indicates that caregivers experience a communication burden that can result in topic avoidance and distress; however, little is known about how burden stemming from communication difficulties with health care providers relates to caregiving outcomes.
Objectives: To investigate how family caregiver communication difficulties with health care providers influence caregiver quality of life and anxiety.
Methods: Data were collected in a cross-sectional online survey of 220 caregivers with communication difficulties resulting from caregiver avoidance of caregiving-related topics, inadequate reading and question-asking health literacy, and low communication self-efficacy.
Results: Caregiver outcomes were not affected by reading health literacy level but did differ based on question-asking health literacy level. Adequate question-asking health literacy was associated with lower anxiety and a higher quality of life. Caregivers who avoided discussing caregiving topics reported higher anxiety and lower quality of life and caregivers with increased communication self-efficacy reported a higher quality of life.
Conclusion: Involvement of family caregivers in care is likely to require tailored approaches that address caregiver communication and health literacy skills. Findings from this study suggest that hospice and palliative care providers should identify and provide support for caregiver communication difficulties in order to positively influence caregiver quality of life and anxiety.
The use of home parenteral nutrition (HPN) in patients with incurable cancer remains controversial with significant variation worldwide. We aimed to systematically evaluate the literature from 1960 to 2018 examining the use of HPN in advanced cancer patients for all intestinal failure indications and assess the potential benefits/burdens of HPN in this cohort of patients. The primary end point was survival and secondary end points were quality of life and nutritional/performance status. Meta-analysis was performed with a random effects model, where suitable. Of 493 studies retrieved, 22 met the quality inclusion criteria. Studies were mainly conducted in Western countries (Italy, USA, Canada, Germany), including a total of 3564 patients (mean age 57.8 years). Mean duration for HPN was 5.0 mo. Mean overall survival was 7.3 mo. Patients with improved performance status survived for longer on HPN. Quality of life was sparsely reported though there was no observed negative impact of PN. HPN-related complications were reported in eight studies only and were mainly catheter-related blood stream infections. In conclusion, HPN is used for several indications in advanced cancer, though there is significant heterogeneity of results. Disparities in geographical distribution of the studies may reflect variation in accessing HPN.
Introduction: Experimental studies have shown that palliative care team (PCT) involvement can improve quality of life (QoL) and symptom burden of patients with advanced cancer. It is unclear to what extent this effect is sustained in daily practice of hospital care.
Objective: This observational study aims to investigate the effect of PCT consultation on QoL and symptom burden of hospitalized patients with advanced cancer in daily practice.
Methods: After admission to 1 of 9 participating hospitals, patients with advanced cancer for whom the attending physician answered “no” to the Surprise Question were invited to complete a questionnaire, including the EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL, at 6 points in time, until 3 months after admission. Outcomes were compared between patients who received PCT consultation and patients who did not, taking into account differences in baseline characteristics.
Results: A total of 164 patients consented to participate, of whom 32 received PCT consultation. Of these patients, 108 were able to complete a questionnaire at day 14, of whom 19 after receiving PCT consultation. After adjusting for baseline differences, EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL scores for pain, appetite, and emotional functioning at day 14 were more favorable for patients who received a PCT consultation.
Conclusion: PCT consultation decreased patients’ symptom burden and tends to have a positive effect on QoL of hospitalized patients with advanced cancer, even if the PCT is consulted late in the patient’s disease trajectory.
Background: There is an increased interest in the analysis of large, national palliative care data sets including patient reported outcomes (PROs). No study has investigated if it was best to include or exclude data from services with low response rates in order to obtain the patient reported outcomes most representative of the national palliative care population. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate whether services with low response rates should be excluded from analyses to prevent effects of possible selection bias.
Methods: Data from the Danish Palliative Care Database from 24,589 specialized palliative care admittances of cancer patients was included. Patients reported ten aspects of quality of life using the EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL-questionnaire. Multiple linear regression was performed to test if response rate was associated with the ten aspects of quality of life.
Results: The score of six quality of life aspects were significantly associated with response rate. However, in only two cases patients from specialized palliative care services with lower response rates (< 20.0%, 20.0–29.9%, 30.0–39.9%, 40.0–49.9% or 50.0–59.9) were feeling better than patients from services with high response rates (=60%) and in both cases it was less than 2 points on a 0–100 scale.
Conclusions: The study hypothesis, that patients from specialized palliative care services with lower response rates were reporting better quality of life than those from specialized palliative care services with high response rates, was not supported. This suggests that there is no reason to exclude data from specialized palliative care services with low response rates.
Background: Access to palliative care services is essential for attaining universal health coverage for patients with a terminal cancer. Despite this, many patients with advanced cancer in low-income countries, such as Myanmar, suffer at the end of life (EOL) due to little or no access to palliative care. However, actual evidence on EOL experiences of cancer patients in Myanmar is lacking. This paper aims to describe various dimensions of EOL experiences among patients with an advanced cancer from the largest public hospital in Myanmar.
Methods: We surveyed 195 patients with stage IV cancer seeking care from outpatient oncology clinics to assess their quality of life, pain severity, pain medications taken, quality of communication with doctors, nursing care and health care coordination, and desire to end life sooner. We assessed socioeconomic status (SES) differences in each patient outcome using separate multivariate linear/logistic regressions.
Results: Forty-one percent of the patients in our sample reported that they wish their life would end sooner. Low SES cancer patients had significantly worse quality of life, reported poor health care coordination and were more likely to report severe pain compared to high SES cancer patients visiting the same hospital.
Conclusion: To improve quality of life and pain management and to reduce EOL distress among patients with advanced cancer, there is a pressing need to develop and invest in hospital and community-level palliative care services in Myanmar.
Objectives:To describe the feasibility of a chaplain-led spiritually focused life review interview and the development of a spiritual legacy document (SLD) for patients with advanced diseases and to describe changes in spiritual well-being (SWB), spiritual coping strategies (SC), and quality of life (QOL) after receiving the SLD.
Patients and Methods: In all, 130 patients and support person (SP) pairs were recruited from July 2012 to January 2019. Following enrollment, demographic information was gathered and baseline questionnaires were administered. Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy'Spiritual Well-Being Scale (FACIT-Sp-12) and a linear analog scale assessment (LASA) measured SWB. LASAs also measured QOL and emotional well-being (EWB). Positive Religious Coping Scale (RCOPE) measured SC. After completion of baseline forms, participants were interviewed (individually) by a chaplain. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed, and verified. Transcripts were edited and participants were given the opportunity to make adaptations. The participant-approved draft was then developed into a professionally printed SLD. Follow-up questionnaires were administered to assess change.
Results: Significant improvements from baseline to post-SLD follow-up were found for patients on the LASAs: SWB (average 7.7-8.3, P = .01), QOL (average 6.7-7.3, P = .03), EWB (average 6.9-7.5, P = .01), and on the positive RCOPE (average 1.8-2.0, P = .007). Effect sizes were approximately 0.25. Considering any improvement, 61.0% improved their positive RCOPE score, 46.6% improved EWB, and 39.7% improved SWB. No significant changes were found on the FACIT-Sp-12. No significant changes were found for SPs.
Conclusion: The results suggest that the primary participants who completed the study benefited by significantly increasing their QOL, SWB, EWB, and SC.
Despite significant advances in heart failure (HF) treatment, HF remains a progressive, extremely symptomatic, and terminal disease with a median survival of 2.1 years after diagnosis. HF often leads to a constellation of symptoms, including dyspnea, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, pain, and worsened cognitive function. Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their caregivers facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness and therefore is well suited to support these patients. However, historically, palliative care has often focused on supporting patients with malignant disease, rather than a progressive chronic disease such as HF. Predicting mortality in patients with HF is challenging. The lack of obvious transition points in disease progression also raises challenges to primary care providers and specialists to know at what point to integrate palliative care during a patient's disease trajectory.
Although therapies for HF often result in functional and symptomatic improvements including health-related quality of life (HRQL), some patients with HF do not demonstrate these benefits, including those patients with a preserved ejection fraction. Provision of palliative care for patients with HF requires an understanding of HF pathogenesis and common medications used for these patients, as well as an approach to balancing life-prolonging and HRQL care strategies. This review describes HF and current targeted therapies and their effects on symptoms, hospital admission rates, exercise performance, HRQL, and survival. Pharmacological interactions with and precautions related to commonly used palliative care medications are reviewed. The goal of this review is to equip palliative care clinicians with information to make evidence-based decisions while managing the balance between optimal disease management and patient quality of life.
Context: Patients with significant burn injuries likely have palliative care needs.
Objectives: We performed a systematic review of existing evidence concerning the palliative care needs of burn patients.
Methods: Through November 26, 2018, we systematically searched PubMed, CINAHL, Embase, Web of Science, and Scopus, using terms representing burn injuries and the eight domains of quality palliative care as outlined by the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care. Eligible articles involved burn-injured patients treated with an intervention targeting at least one of the eight domains.
Results: Our searches yielded 7532 unique records, which led to 238 articles for full review and 88 studies that met inclusion criteria. Seventy-five studies addressed the domain physical aspects of care and merit a separate systematic review; 13 studies were included in our final review. Four of the seven domains—processes of care, psychologic symptoms, social aspects, and end of life—were addressed by studies but three domains—spiritual, cultural, or ethics—were unaddressed. Included studies highlight potential benefits from peridischarge self-care education programs, peer support, and group therapy in improving quality of life. In patients with severe injuries, end-of-life decision-making protocols were associated with increased utilization of comfort-focused treatments.
Conclusion: Most existing palliative care-related research in burn patients addresses interventions for physical symptoms with minimal literature concerning other domains. Opportunities exist for further research of palliative care in burn populations with emphasis on addressing interventions for all domains and better standardizing the language and outcomes for the palliative care interventions.
Context: Previous work has found that facilitated advance care planning (ACP) interventions are effective in increasing ACP uptake among patients with severe respiratory disease.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to investigate whether a nurse-led, facilitated ACP intervention among participants with severe respiratory disease impacts self-reported or clinical outcomes.
Methods: A multicenter, open-label, patient-preference, randomized controlled trial of a nurse-led facilitated ACP intervention was performed. Outcome measures included self-report scales (health care satisfaction and EQ-5D-5L health-related quality of life at three- and six-month follow-up), 12-month mortality, and health care utilization during the final 90 days of life.
Results: One hundred forty-nine participants were recruited across two study settings (metropolitan tertiary hospital respiratory department and rural sites) and 106 were allocated to receive the ACP intervention. There was no effect of the intervention on satisfaction with health care, health-related quality of life, or 12-month mortality rates. Among those participants who died during the follow-up period (N = 54), those allocated to the ACP intervention had significantly fewer outpatient consultations (7.51 vs. 13.6, P < 0.001). There were no changes in emergency department attendances, total hospital admissions or length of stay, or home nursing visits. Among those allocated to the ACP intervention, there was a reduced length of stay in acute hospital settings (7.76 vs. 11.5 nights, P < 0.001) and increased length of stay in palliative hospital settings (5.54 vs. 2.08, P < 0.001) during the final 90 days of life.
Conclusion: A facilitated ACP intervention among patients with severe respiratory disease did not have an impact on satisfaction, health-related quality of life, or 12-month mortality rate. Facilitated ACP may be associated with a different type of health care utilization during the end-of-life period.
Context: Patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing dialysis experience multiple concurrent symptoms. These symptoms cluster together and have negative impacts on patient outcomes. However, information on changes in symptom clusters over time is limited.
Objectives: This longitudinal study examined the stability of symptom clusters and their impacts on health-related quality of life and functional status over a period of one year.
Methods: Eligibility criteria were patients diagnosed with end-stage renal disease; had received dialysis consecutively for at least three months; and had given written informed consent. Dialysis Symptom Index, Kidney Disease Quality of Life 36, and Karnofsky Performance Status Scale were used to evaluate the impacts of symptom clusters and outcomes. Exploratory factor analyses and multiple regression analyses were used to determine symptom clusters and their associations with patient outcomes.
Results: Among the 354 recruited patients, 271 completed the 12-month assessment. Four symptom clusters were identified across the three assessments, namely, uremic, gastrointestinal, skin, and emotional. Within each cluster, the specific symptoms were varied. The uremic symptom cluster accounted for the largest amount of variability. Across the three assessments, a higher uremic cluster factor score was associated with poorer physical well-being, whereas a higher emotional cluster factor score was consistently associated with poorer mental well-being.
Conclusion: Symptoms in patients on dialysis clustered in relatively stable patterns. The four symptom clusters identified had consistent negative effects on various aspects of patients' well-being. Our findings suggest the need for ongoing symptom assessment and early recognition of symptoms that may contribute to adverse patient outcomes.
On March 28, 2020, the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opened investigations into recently released critical care crisis triage protocols. Disability rights advocates are urging Congress to prohibit crisis triage based on “anticipated or demonstrated resource-intensity needs, the relative survival probabilities of patients deemed likely to benefit from medical treatment, and assessments of pre- or post-treatment quality of life.”
OBJECTIVE: This study explored how built space plays out in palliative care, focusing on spatial aspects that could support or hamper patients', relatives' and caregivers' well-being.
METHODS: This study was conducted in a freestanding small-scale hospice combining a residential part for eight guests with a day-care part for groups of about five persons. Observations were combined with semistructured, individual interviews with eight guests (sometimes accompanied by relatives) and three focus-group interviews with staff, volunteers and relatives. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed based on the Qualitative Analysis Guide of Leuven.
RESULTS: The most important spatial aspects that impact on physical and social well-being in palliative care turned out to be the building scale and physical proximity. The small-scale setting counters the (often negative) association of palliative care with hospital environments. When the medical condition of the guest allows, it makes communal or outdoor spaces reachable, which enhances emotional and social well-being. In worse conditions, it still makes that care and nature are always nearby. The compactness of communal spaces intensifies social contacts.
CONCLUSIONS: The building scale and physical proximity play out in the relationship between the building and its surroundings, between the residential and the day-care parts and among people within the building. Future research could investigate to what extent these spatial aspects are relevant in more conventional palliative care units or even in general hospital wards.