Background: The Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) is an academic institution of the Holy See (Vatican) which aims to develop and promote Catholic teachings on questions of biomedical ethics. Palliative care (PC) experts from around the world professing different faiths were invited by the PAV to develop strategic recommendations for the global development of PC ("PAL-LIFE group").
Design: Thirteen experts in PC advocacy participated in an online Delphi process. In four iterative rounds, participants were asked to identify the most significant stakeholder groups and then propose for each, strategic recommendations to advance PC. Each round incorporated the feedback from previous rounds until consensus was achieved on the most important recommendations. In the last step, the ad hoc group was asked to rank the stakeholders' groups by order of importance on a 13 points-scale and to propose suggestions for implementation. A cluster analysis provided a classification of the stakeholders in different levels of importance for PC development.
Results: Thirteen stakeholder groups and 43 recommendations resulted from the first round and, of those, 13 recommendations were chosen as the most important (one for each stakeholder group). Five groups had higher scores. The recommendation chosen for these top five groups were 1) Policy Makers: Ensure universal access to PC; 2) Academia: Offer mandatory PC courses to undergraduates; 3) Health care workers: PC professionals should receive adequate certification; 4) Hospitals and health care centers: Every healthcare center should ensure access to PC medicines, and 5) PC associations: National Associations should be effective advocates and work with their governments in the process of implementing international policy framework. Not chosen recommendations for both this higher scored group, plus for the remaining eight groups, are also presented in order of importance.
Conclusion: The white paper represents a position statementof the PAV with regards to advocacy and promotion of PC.
The purpose of this update is to summarize and critique research articles in Hospice and Palliative Care from 2018 that are pertinent and impactful in informing clinical practice. The articles were presented at the 2019 Annual Assembly of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA). Eight original research articles published between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018, were identified through a systematic PubMed search using the terms "hospice" and "palliative care," a hand search of 22 leading healthcare journals, and discussion with experts in the field. The final articles were chosen based on each study's methodological quality, its ability to be applied across different care settings, and its ability to impact clinical practice. We summarize the eight articles that were chosen and identify ways the articles can be used to inform clinical practice.
La recherche en santé autochtone au Canada a été négligée dans le passé et qualifiée de problématique, notamment en raison du manque de collaboration avec les peuples autochtones. L'Énoncé de politique des trois Conseils sur l'éthique de la recherche avec des êtres humains décrit au chapitre 9 la conduite éthique de la recherche axée sur les Premières nations, les Inuits et les Métis. Les principes PCAP® des Premières nations (propriété, contrôle, accès et possession) soulignent l'importance majeure de l'engagement et de la gouvernance autochtones. En vue d'assurer que les buts et les activités de la recherche développée soient réalisés en partenariat complet et significatif avec les peuples et les communautés autochtones, il est possible de faire appel à des méthodes de recherche participative communautaire (RPC) intégrant leur plein engagement. Les recherches utilisant des ensembles de données secondaires, telles que les données administratives sur la santé recueillies en routine, ne devraient plus être exclues de cette approche. Notre objectif était de décrire comment notre équipe de chercheurs universitaires, alliée à un organisme national de santé autochtone, a adapté les méthodes de RPC dans le cadre d'un projet de recherche utilisant des données recueillies antérieurement pour examiner les lacunes dans la prestation de soins de fin de vie aux peuples autochtones en Ontario. Nous décrivons le processus d'élaboration de ce partenariat de recherche et expliquons comment l'intégration des principes de base et des processus de formation du savoir autochtones ont guidé cette collaboration. Notre partenariat de recherche, qui implique l'adaptation de méthodes de RPC, illustre un processus d'engagement qui pourrait guider d'autres chercheurs désirant mener des recherches en santé autochtone à l'aide de données déjà recueillies. Nous faisons aussi état d'une entente de recherche transparente, négociée équitablement entre un organisme national de santé autochtone et des chercheurs, qui pourrait servir de cadre pour des collaborations de recherche similaires. Il est essentiel de s'assurer que les perspectives autochtones soient au cœur des processus de recherche et qu'elles soient reflétées dans ceux-ci lorsque des données administratives sur la santé sont utilisées.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Qualitative research in the field of palliative care allows for a crucial study of the final stage of life from a social point of view and cultural perspective. This review evaluates the advantages and challenges of applying an ethnographic approach to palliative care research.
RECENT FINDINGS: Thirteen ethnographic articles on organization or quality of care, decision-making, delirium, death, and the process of dying, were reviewed. Most studies use interviews, participant observation, and field notes as their primary data collection techniques. In ethnographic research, cultural issues, relationships and interactions of a group, the meanings and perceptions of the participants, the communication process, and the use of language in a particular and natural context were analyzed. Data collection and information analysis took an average of 14 months in the included studies.
SUMMARY: The ethnographic method, applied with rigor, is valuable in the analysis of a real phenomenon if the particular context in which the study developed is well defined. With an ethnographic approach, researchers can uncover cultural nuances that evidence different realities.
Background: There are significant policy imperatives to involve consumers at the outset of and throughout research. How best to achieve this in an authentic and meaningful way is elusive, particularly within the palliative care population.
Aim: To determine how best to engage people with palliative care needs and their families in co-designing a qualitative study to better understand how to improve care of the dying in the acute care setting.
Methods: A case study design informed this work, informed by pre-determined research questions that focused on consumers advising on participant experience within the research, rather than research methodology per se.
Findings: Eleven consumers contributed across five panel meetings. Analysis of documented feedback led to four key areas of protocol change: Getting the language in the recruitment materials and information and consent forms right; Developing a feasible and acceptable recruitment strategy; Opportunities to more clearly articulate the explicit value of this research for patients and families; Support strategies for participants.
Discussion: Authentic consumer engagement requires time and effort; however, the outcomes are well worth the invested time and energy. Key foci outlined within this case study to enhance authenticity included: collaboration; preferencing the consumer voice; adequate preparation to support consumer engagement; and openness to all feedback provided.
Conclusion: Co-designing research with consumers enabled the outcome to be feasible for implementation, without any modifications required. Ensuring relevance and consumer-centredness for the expanding palliative care evidence base is essential and can only be achieved through meaningful partnerships with consumer representatives.
BACKGROUND: Research ethics committees are commonly perceived as a 'barrier' to research involving seriously ill children. Researchers studying seriously ill children often feel that committees view their applications more harshly compared to applications for research with other populations. Whether or not this is the case in practice is unknown.
AIM: The aim of this study was to explore committees' concerns, expectations and decisions for research applications involving seriously ill children submitted for review in the United Kingdom.
DESIGN: Content analysis of committee meeting minutes, decision letters and researcher response letters.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Chief investigators for National Institute of Health Research portfolio studies involving seriously ill children were contacted for permission to review their study documents.
RESULTS: Of the 77 applications included in this study, 57 received requests for revisions at first review. Committee expectations and concerns commonly related to participant information sheets, methodology, consent, recruitment or formatting. Changes were made to 53 of these studies, all of which were subsequently approved.
CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that committees review applications for research involving seriously ill children with the same scrutiny as applications for research with other populations. Yet, the perception that committees act as a barrier to this type of research persists. We suggest that this perception remains due to other factors including, but not limited to, the high levels of formatting or administrative revisions requested by committees or additional study requirements needed for research involving children, such as multiple versions of consent forms or participant information sheets.
Background/Aims: Numerous changes can occur between the original design plans for clinical trials, the submission of funding proposals, and the implementation of the clinical trial. In the hospice setting, environmental changes can present significant obstacles, which require changes to the original plan designs, recruitment, and staffing. The purpose of the study was to share lessons and problem-solving strategies that can assist in future hospice trials.
Methods: This study uses one hospice clinical trial as an exemplar to demonstrate challenges for clinical trial research in this setting. Using preliminary data collected during the first months of a trial, the research team details the many ways their current protocol reflects changes from the originally proposed plans. Experiences are used as an exemplar to address the following questions: 1) How do research environments change between the initial submission of a funding proposal and the eventual award? 2) How can investigators maintain the integrity of the research and accommodate unexpected changes in the research environment?
Results: The changing environment within the hospice setting required design, sampling, and recruitment changes within the first year. The decision-making process resulted in a stronger design with greater generalization. As a result of necessary protocol changes, the study results are positioned to be translational following the study conclusion.
Conclusion: Researchers would do well to review their protocol and statistics early in a clinical trial. They should be prepared for adjustments to accommodate market and environmental changes outside their control. Ongoing data monitoring, specifically related to recruitment, is advised.
BACKGROUND: European migrant populations are aging and will increasingly be in need of palliative and end of life care. However, migrant patients are often underrepresented in palliative care research populations. This poses a number of drawbacks, such as the inability to generalize findings or check the appropriateness of care innovations amongst migrant patients. The aim of this study was to develop a self-assessment instrument to help palliative care researchers assess and find ways to improve their projects' diversity responsiveness in light of the aging migrant population, and determine whether in addition to older migrants other groups should be included in the instrument's focus.
METHODS: After developing a concept instrument based on the standards for equity in healthcare for migrants and other vulnerable groups, literature review and interviews with palliative care researchers, we conducted a Delphi study to establish the content of the self-assessment instrument and used think aloud methods in a study involving seven projects for usability testing of the self-assessment instrument.
RESULTS: A Delphi panel of 22 experts responded to a questionnaire consisting of 3 items concerning the target group and 30 items on diversity responsiveness measures. Using an a priori set consensus rate of 75% to include items in the self-assessment instrument, experts reached consensus on 25 out of 30 items on diversity responsiveness measures. Findings furthermore indicate that underserved groups in palliative care other than migrant patients should be included in the instrument's focus. This was stressed by both the experts involved in the Delphi study and the researchers engaged in usability testing. Usability testing additionally provided insights into learnability, error-rate, satisfaction and applicability of the instrument, which were used to revise the self-assessment instrument.
CONCLUSIONS: The final self-assessment instrument includes a list of 23 diversity responsiveness measures to be taken at varying stages of a project, and targets all groups at risk of being underrepresented. This instrument can be used in palliative care research to assess diversity responsiveness of projects and instigate action for improvement.
Background: Risk minimization in research with bereaved parents is important. However, little is known about which research methods balance the sensitivity required for bereaved research participants and the need for generalizable results.
Aim: To explore parental experiences of participating in mixed method bereavement research via a pilot study.
Design: A convergent parallel mixed method design assessing bereaved parents’ experience of research participation.
Setting/participants: Eleven parents whose child was treated for cancer at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane completed the questionnaire/interview being piloted (n = 8 mothers; n = 3 fathers; >6 months and <6 years bereaved). Of these, eight parents completed the pilot study evaluation questionnaire, providing feedback on their experience of participation.
Results: Participants acknowledged the importance of bereaved parents being central to research design and the development of bereavement programs. Sixty-three per cent (n = 5/8) of parents described completion of the questionnaire as ‘not at all/a little bit’ of a burden. Seventy-five per cent (n = 6/8) of parents opting into the telephone interview described participation as ‘not at all/a little bit’ of a burden. When considering the latest timeframes for participation in bereavement research 63% (n = 5/8) of parents indicated ‘no endpoint.’ Findings from the pilot study enabled important adjustments to be made to a large-scale future study.
Conclusions: As a research method, pilot studies may be utilized to minimize harm and maximize the potential benefits for vulnerable research participants. A mixed method approach allows researchers to generalize findings to a broader population while also drawing on the depth of the lived experience.
Palliative care is a growing specialty that addresses the needs of individuals diagnosed with advanced illness and their caregivers. Although palliative care has been shown to improve a variety of patient- and caregiver-centered outcomes, access to comprehensive palliative care services for patients is often limited. There is a need to identify the most effective approaches to delivering palliative care to patients in community settings. In fiscal year 2017, based on extensive input from a diverse set of stakeholders, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funded nine multisite comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) trials focused on community-based delivery of palliative care for a total investment of $80 million. These studies, focusing on advance care planning and models of palliative care delivery, represent some of the largest most complex palliative care trials funded to date. Each study evaluates both patient and caregiver outcomes, and together, these trials include a broad range of health conditions, interventions, and settings of care. PCORI has also fostered a learning network of the funded awardees to facilitate the successful conduct of these CER studies and to support awardee efforts to develop collaborative products relevant to advancing the field of palliative care research and practice. The protocols of each of the nine trials, detailed in this issue, demonstrate the expansive reach of the investment PCORI has made in an effort to further the research agenda and provide substantive research evidence in stakeholder-identified areas of need in the field of palliative care.
Introduction: For many patients, primary care is an appropriate setting for advance care planning (ACP). ACP focuses on what matters most to patients and ensuring health care supports patient-defined goals. ACP may involve interactions between a clinician and a patient, but for seriously ill patients ACP could be managed by a team.
Methods: We are conducting a cluster randomized trial comparing team-based to clinician-focused ACP using the Serious Illness Care Program (SICP) in 42 practices recruited from 7 practice-based research networks (PBRNs). Practices were randomized to one of the two models. Patients are referred to the study after engaging in ACP in primary care. Our target enrollment is 1260 subjects. Patient data are collected at enrollment, six months and one year. Primary outcomes are patient-reported goal-concordant care and days at home. Secondary outcomes include additional patient measures, clinician/team experience, and practice-level measures of SICP implementation.
Study Implementation: This trial was designed and is conducted by the Meta-network Learning and Research Center (Meta-LARC), a consortium of PBRNs focused on integrating engagement with patients, families, and other stakeholders into primary care research and practice. The trial pairs a comparative effectiveness study with implementation of a new program and is designed to balance fidelity to the assigned model with flexibility to allow each practice to adapt implementation to their environment and priorities. Our dissemination will report the results of comparing the two models and the implementation experience of the practices to create guidance for the spread of ACP in primary care.
BACKGROUND: Research is needed to improve care and diminish suffering for children with life-limiting illnesses and their parents. However, there are doubts about whether it is possible to conduct paediatric end of life research safely and ethically, as it may unduly burden or inadvertently harm participants.
AIM: To compare and evaluate responses from participants to the assessments of burdens and benefits that were conducted at two timepoints during a phenomenological study that investigated parents' experiences of having a child with life-limiting cancer participate in a Phase I clinical trial.
DISCUSSION: Parents reported that participating in the study was beneficial and resulted in minimal burden or distress. The assessment of benefits and burdens at the first timepoint appeared sufficient to understand participants' experiences.
CONCLUSION: This study adds to the evidence that research may be safely and effectively conducted with parents of children who are deceased or have life-limiting illnesses. Further research is needed to evaluate the most effective timing of assessments of the burdens and benefits of their participation in research.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: It is important when conducting research with people with life-limiting illnesses or their family members to assess the burdens and benefits of their participation, to understand their experiences and assist in its conduct.
This article offers a reflection of two studies conducted with bereaved college students and the feedback on motivations to be interviewed about their grief experiences. Although this was not the initial intent of the original mixed methods study, the unexpected and overwhelming response of students who signed up to interview about their grief experiences warranted an additional examination to explore this surprising phenomenon. Responses in 45 interviews centered on motivations of wanting to share their experiences, feeling safe sharing their experiences, and wanting to help other students who may be experiencing grief. Implications and recommendations for future research are provided.
OBJECTIVES: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a serious illness with disabling acute and chronic pain that needs better therapies, but insufficient patient participation in research is a major impediment to advancing SCD pain management. The purpose of this article is to discuss the challenges of conducting an SCD study and approaches to successfully overcoming those challenges.
DESIGN: In a repeated-measures, longitudinal study designed to characterize SCD pain phenotypes, we recruited 311 adults of African ancestry. Adults with SCD completed 4 study visits 6 months apart, and age- and gender-matched healthy controls completed 1 visit.
RESULTS: We recruited and completed measures on 186 patients with SCD and 125 healthy controls. We retained 151 patients with SCD with data at 4 time points over 18 months and 125 healthy controls (1 time point) but encountered many challenges in recruitment and study visit completion. Enrollment delays often arose from patients' difficulty in taking time from their complicated lives and frequent pain episodes. Once scheduled, participants with SCD cancelled 49% of visits often because of pain; controls canceled 30% of their scheduled visits. To facilitate recruitment and retention, we implemented a number of strategies that were invaluable in our success.
CONCLUSION: Patients' struggles with illness, chronic pain, and their life situations resulted in many challenges to recruitment and completion of study visits. Important to overcoming challenges was gaining the trust of patients with SCD and a participant-centered approach. Early identification of potential problems allowed strategies to be instituted proactively, leading to success.
CONTEXT: Chinese medicine modalities, including acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine (CHM), have been used as palliative interventions among cancer patients. More research should be conducted to confirm their effectiveness.
OBJECTIVES: To prioritize Chinese medicine clinical research questions for cancer palliative care.
METHODS: Twelve international experts, including physicians, Chinese medicine practitioners, nurses and clinical research methodologists (n=3 from each category) from Asia, North America, Australia and Europe participated in a two-round Delphi survey for prioritizing 29 research questions identified from existing systematic reviews. The experts were asked to i) rate clinical importance of answering the questions on a 9-point Likert scale; ii) provide qualitative comments on their ratings; and iii) suggest outcome measurement approaches.
RESULTS: Eight research priorities reached positive consensus after the two-round Delphi survey. Six of the priorities focused on acupuncture and related therapies; of which median ratings on importance ranged from 7.0 to 8.0 (interquartile range (IQR): 1.00 to 2.50), and the percentage agreement ranged from 75.0% to 91.7%. The remaining two priorities related to CHM; with median ratings ranged from 7.0 to 8.0 (IQR: 1.00 to 1.50), with percentage agreement ranged from 75.0% to 83.3%. Neither positive nor negative consensus was established among the remaining 21 questions.
CONCLUSION: The findings will inform rational allocation of scarce research funding for evaluating the effectiveness of Chinese medicine for cancer palliative care, especially on acupuncture and related therapies. Further research on herb safety and herb-drug interaction should be performed before conducting international trials on CHM.
PURPOSE: Bereavement research has helped to improve end-of-life practices in the ICU. However, few studies have explored bereaved relatives experience of research participation in this context. We aimed to explore the experience of bereaved relatives' participation in the ARREVE study which included three telephone follow-up calls to complete several quantitative tools.
METHODS: Volunteer relatives who participated in the 12-month follow-up call completed a questionnaire about research participation that included ten open-ended questions so that respondents could use their own words and thoughts. These open-ended questions were analyzed using qualitative analysis that examines themes within the data.
RESULTS: 175/311 relatives completed the questionnaire. Three themes were derived from the thematic analysis: (1) struggling: reactivation of emotional distress associated with the ICU experience and the loss is frequent, specifically during the 1st follow-up call. (2) Resilience: as time goes by, research participation becomes increasingly positive. The calls are a help both in giving meaning to the relatives' experience and in accepting the loss. (3) Recognition: research calls can compensate for the absence of support during bereavement.
CONCLUSION: Although some emotional difficulties must be acknowledged, bereavement research is overall associated with benefits, by facilitating emotional adjustments, meaning-making and resilience. Lack of support and social isolation during bereavement are frequent experiences, revealing that support strategies for bereaved relatives should be developed after the loss of a loved one in the ICU.
CONTEXT: In order to dramatically advance the evidence base for pediatric palliative care (PPC) interventions, practices, and programs in the United States and similar practice settings, the field needs to better understand the challenges and opportunities for rigorous scholarship.
OBJECTIVES: The Pediatric Palliative Care Research Network conducted a workshop to clarify challenges and identify key priorities.
METHODS: The workshop focused on PPC research topics and methods, including: outcomes measurement, qualitative inquiry, analyses of "big data," prospective collection of research data, case series and cohort studies, and intervention trials, with synthesizing summary and follow-up discussions. All attendees reviewed and approved the final report.
RESULTS: Five common challenges were identified: patient diversity and small population size; interdependencies and dynamic interactions between child, family members, and disease processes over time; outcomes and measurement; workforce and infrastructure limitations; and presumed burden of PPC research upon participants. Seven priorities emerged: bolster training and development of PPC investigators; develop core resources; advance symptom measurement (and measurements of other exposures and outcomes); improve symptom management and quality of life interventions; improve communication, elicitation of goals of care, and decision-making; understand family impact and facilitate or improve family adaptation and coping; and analyze and improve systems of care, policy, and education.
CONCLUSION: These challenges and priorities identify key research areas that can guide individual investigators and research funders to advance the field.
Cet article se veut une occasion de parler de la relève en recherche en soins palliatifs et de fin de vie (SPFV). Il décrit la première journée scientifique étudiante organisée par le comité étudiant du Réseau québécois de recherche en soins palliatifs et de fin de vie (RQSPAL), qui a eu lieu le 15 mars dernier à Québec. Nous vous présentons d'abord notre comité et son mandat. Cela permettra de décrire les motivations entourant la création et l'organisation de cette première journée scientifique étudiante. Nous brosserons ensuite un portrait des différentes activités planifiées au cours de cette journée et des champs d'intérêts portés par la relève. Une réflexion amorcée lors de cette journée scientifique et poursuivie par le comité étudiant sur certians thèmes abordés lors d'une table ronde avec des experts en SPFV sera également partagée. Finalement, nous concluerons en vous présentant le bilan de cette première journée scientifique du comité étudiant et en vous lançant une invitation.