BACKGROUND: Evaluation of palliative care services is crucial in order to ensure high quality care and to plan future services in light of growing demand. There is also an acknowledgement of the need to better understand patient experiences as part of the paradigm shift from paternalistic professional and passive patient to a more collaborative partnership. However, while clinical decision-making is well-developed, the science of the delivery of care is relatively novel for most clinicians. We therefore introduce the Trajectory Touchpoint Technique (TTT), a systematic methodology designed using service delivery models and theories, for capturing the voices of palliative care service users.
METHODS: We used design science research as our overarching methodology to build our Trajectory Touchpoint Technique. We also incorporated a range of kernel theories and service design models from the wider social sciences. We developed and tested our Trajectory Touchpoint Technique with palliative care patients and their families (n = 239) in collaboration with different hospices and hospital-based palliative care providers (n = 8).
RESULTS: The Trajectory Touchpoint Technique is user-friendly, enables systematic data collection and analysis, and incorporates all tangible and intangible dimensions of palliative care important to the service user. These dimensions often go beyond clinical care to encompass wider aspects that are important to the people who use the service. Our collaborating organisations have already begun to make changes to their service delivery based on our results.
CONCLUSIONS: The Trajectory Touchpoint Technique overcomes several limitations of other palliative care evaluation methods, while being more comprehensive. The new technique incorporates physical, psychosocial, and spiritual aspects of palliative care, and is user-friendly for inpatients, outpatients, families, and the bereaved. The new technique has been tested with people who have a range of illnesses, in a variety of locations, among people with learning disabilities and low levels of literacy, and with children as well as adults. The Trajectory Touchpoint Technique has already uncovered many previously unrecognised opportunities for service improvement, demonstrating its ability to shape palliative care services to better meet the needs of patients and their families.
BACKGROUND: The ERANet-LAC CODE (Care Of the Dying Evaluation) international survey assessed quality of care for dying cancer patients in seven countries, by use of the i-CODE questionnaire completed by bereaved relatives. The aim of this sub study was to explore which factors improve or reduce quality of end-of-life (EOL) care from Norwegian relatives' point of view, as expressed in free text comments.
METHODS: 194 relatives of cancer patients dying in seven Norwegian hospitals completed the i-CODE questionnaire 6-8 weeks after bereavement; recruitment period 14 months; response rate 58%. Responders were similar to non-responders in terms of demographic details.104 participants (58% spouse/partner) added free text comments, which were analyzed by systematic text condensation.
RESULTS: Of the 104 comments, 45% contained negative descriptions, 27% positive and 23% mixed. 78% described previous experiences, whereas 22% alluded to the last 2 days of life. 64% of the comments represented medical/surgical/oncological wards and 36% palliative care units. Four main categories were developed from the free text comments: 1) Participants described how attentive care towards the practical needs of patients and relatives promoted dignity at the end of life, which could easily be lost when this awareness was missing. 2) They experienced that lack of staff, care continuity, professional competence or healthcare service coordination caused uncertainty and poor symptom alleviation. 3) Inadequate information to patient and family members generated unpredictable and distressing final illness trajectories. 4) Availability and professional support from healthcare providers created safety and enhanced coping in a difficult situation.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that hospitals caring for cancer patients at the end of life and their relatives, should systematically identify and attend to practical needs, as well as address important organizational issues. Education of staff members ought to emphasize how professional conduct and communication fundamentally affect patient care and relatives' coping.
BACKGROUND: Family caregivers provide the majority of care for people with Parkinson's disease (PD) in the palliative care phase. For many this is a demanding experience, affecting their quality of life.
OBJECTIVE: We set out to map the experiences of bereaved family caregivers during the period of informal care in the palliative care phase as well as after the death of their loved one with PD.
METHODS: Ten bereaved family caregivers participated in this qualitative study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and interpretative phenomenological analysis was used executed.
RESULTS: We identified four main themes. 1) Feeling like a professional caregiver: while caring for a person with PD, the family caregivers took over many roles and tasks of the person with PD.2) Healthcare professionals do not always know what PD really means. Most interviewees had negative experiences with knowledge and understanding of PD of, especially, (practice) nurses. 3) Being on your own: many respondents had felt highly responsible for their loved one's care and lacked time and space for themselves. Grief and feelings of guilt were present during the caregiving period and after death. 4) Being behind the times: to provide palliative care in line with patients' preferences and to feel prepared for the palliative care phase of PD, proactive palliative care planning was considered important. However, the interviewees told that this was most often not provided.
CONCLUSION: These findings indicate that caring for a person with PD in the palliative care phase is a demanding experience for family caregivers. They experience psychological problems for many years before and after the death of the person with PD. Increasing healthcare professionals' awareness of family and bereaved caregivers' needs may mitigate these long-term detrimental effects.
BACKGROUND: Research with persons with dementia is important to better understand the causes of dementia and to develop more effective diagnostics, therapies, and preventive measures. Advance Research Directives (ARDs) have been suggested as a possible solution to include persons with dementia in research in an ethically sound way. Little is known about how people, especially those affected by cognitive impairment, understand and regard the use of ARDs, as empirical studies are mainly conducted with healthy, non-cognitively impaired, participants.
METHODS: This qualitative study, a sub-study of a larger study on the evaluation of ARDs in the context of dementia research in Germany, consists of semi-structured in-depth interviews with 24 persons with cognitive impairment.
RESULTS: Our results indicate that most participants consider ARDs a valuable tool for allowing them to make their own decisions. Many would prefer to draft an ARD when they are still healthy or soon after the diagnosis of cognitive impairment. Participants suggested that the completion of ARDs can be advanced with the provision of practical support and increased dissemination of information on ARDs in society.
CONCLUSION: Persons with subjective or mild cognitive impairment (SCI/MCI) suggested several motivating factors and concerns for completing an ARD. Clinicians need to be trained to accommodate patients' needs for sufficient and adequate information. Furthermore, a standardised, partly pre-formulated template could be helpful for drafting an ARD. As such tested templates are currently not yet available, this addresses the urgent need for more translational and implementation research for the use of ARDs.
BACKGROUND: While many Aotearoa/New Zealanders are receiving excellent palliative care the Pacific populations have limited access to available hospice and palliative care services. Little research has been conducted to identify barriers unique to Pacific populations accessing these services. The purpose of this study was to explore key stakeholders' perspectives on the determinants of low access among Pacific populations to these services.
METHODS: Forty-five semi-structured interviews were conducted face-to-face with hospice patients and their families, hospice/health providers and key informants from the Auckland and Wellington region of Aotearoa/New Zealand. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim and a thematic analysis was carried out by identifying, coding and categorising patterns in the data. Identified themes were then discussed further to determine the relevance of the data grouped by theme.
RESULTS: Five interrelated themes affecting access emerged: perception of hospice (often negative) through lack of accurate information, but changing; families' role to look after their own and sick elderly; hospice experiences; continuity of care in the community and the need for information and communication.
CONCLUSION: Hospice and associated palliative care services are under-utilised and commonly misunderstood among Pacific populations in Aotearoa/New Zealand. There is active support following appropriate information received, hence the need for community education and culturally appropriate hospice and palliative services. Inadequate inter-professional communication contributes to polypharmacy and inefficiency in continuity of care across all levels. The Pacific individual is one component of a collective that is critical in major decisions in end-of-life and life changing situations. The findings may guide policies and further research to improve Hospice and Palliative services in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
CONTEXT: Patients with cancer face symptoms due to disease and treatment, and pain is common and complex. The opioid crisis may complicate patients' and clinicians' experiences of managing pain in cancer care.
OBJECTIVES: In our study of perceptions and experiences with palliative care at an outpatient cancer center, we examined communication around symptom management throughout cancer care, and pain and its management emerged as particularly salient. The objective of this paper is to describe, from the perspectives of patients, caregivers, and oncology healthcare professionals, the role of palliative care in navigating the complicated dynamics of pain management amidst the opioid crisis.
METHODS: A qualitative descriptive study with grounded theory components was designed to investigate experiences with and perceptions of specialist palliative care and symptom management, including pain. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed, and focused coding identified themes related to pain and pain management from all three perspectives.
RESULTS: 44 patients, caregivers, and non-palliative care healthcare professionals completed interviews. Patients with cancer and their caregivers had many concerns about pain management and were specifically concerned about opioid use and stigma. For patients, palliative care improved pain management and helped to de-stigmatize appropriate pain management. Oncology clinicians reported that partnering with palliative care facilitated complex pain management and also provided moral support around difficult opioid recommendations for patients.
CONCLUSION: Palliative care offers the potential to uniquely support both patients and other oncology professionals in optimally navigating the complexity around pain management for cancer care in the midst of the opioid crisis.
Background: Research on what children wished they had done differently after their sibling's death has not been reported.
Objective: Examine what children wished they had/had not done, and their coping after a sibling's neonatal/pediatric intensive care unit/emergency department (NICU/PICU/ED) death.
Design: Qualitative data are part of a longitudinal mixed methods study of 6- to 18-year-olds interviewed at 2, 4, 6, and 13 months after a sibling's death.
Setting/Subjects: Ninety-five school-aged children and 37 adolescents (58% female; 30% Hispanic, 50% black, 20% white).
Measurements: Children responded to three open-ended questions: Thinking about your sibling's death, are there things you wish you (1) had done? (2) had not done? (3) What do you do to deal with your sibling's death? Conventional content analysis procedures were used.
Results: Children wished they had spent more time, talked and played more with their sibling, saved their sibling, taken care of their sibling more, and been able to see their sibling grow up. They wished they had not been mean/yelled at their sibling, complained/argued with mother about their sibling, and kept their feelings inside. Children coped by talking with family, friends, and the deceased; playing, reading, watching TV; avoiding thoughts about and remembering their sibling; crying, keeping calm, praying; living for their sibling. Resuming their usual activities, trying to be happy, and laughing also helped children cope.
Conclusions: Children commented more about what they wish they had done (n = 317) and less about what they wish they had not done (n = 107). Children talked to others and tried resuming usual activities to cope.
BACKGROUND: The anaesthetic propofol is often mentioned as a drug that can be used in palliative sedation. The existing literature of how to use propofol in palliative sedation is scarce, with lack of information about how propofol could be initiated for palliative sedation, doses and treatment outcomes.
AIM: To describe the patient population, previous and concomitant medication and clinical outcome when propofol was used for palliative sedation.
METHODS: A retrospective study with quantitative and qualitative data. All patients who during a four-and-a-half-year period received propofol for palliative sedation at the Department of palliative medicine, Akershus University Hospital, Norway were included.
RESULTS: Fourteen patients were included. In six patients the main indication for palliative sedation was pain, in seven dyspnoea and in one delirium. In eight of these cases propofol was chosen because of the pharmacokinetic properties (rapid effect), and in the remaining cases because midazolam in spite of dose titration failed to provide sufficient symptom relief. In all patients sedation and adequate symptom control was achieved during manual dose titration. During the maintenance phase three of fourteen patients had spontaneous awakenings. At death propofol doses ranged from 60 to 340 mg/hour.
CONCLUSIONS: Severe suffering at the end of life can be successfully treated with propofol for palliative sedation. This can be performed in palliative medicine wards, but skilled observation and dose titration throughout the period of palliative sedation is necessary. Successful initial sedation does not guarantee uninterrupted sedation until death.
A lay patient navigator model involving a culturally tailored intervention to improve palliative care outcomes for Hispanics with advanced cancer was tested across 3 urban and 5 rural cancer centers in Colorado. Five home visits were delivered over 3 months to 112 patients assigned to the randomized controlled trial's intervention arm. Grounded in core Hispanic values, visits addressed palliative care domains (advance care planning, pain/symptom management, and hospice utilization). To describe the content of patient navigator visits with patients/family caregivers, research team members analyzed 4 patient navigators' field notes comprising 499 visits to 112 patients. Based on previous work, codes were established a priori to identify ways patient navigators help patients/family caregivers. Key words and comments from field notes were classified into themes using ATLAS.ti and additional codes established. Nine common themes and exemplars describing the lay patient navigator role are described: activation/empowerment, advocacy, awareness, access, building rapport, providing support, exploring barriers, symptom screening, and the patient experience. Patient navigators used advocacy, activation, education, and motivational interviewing to address patient/family concerns and reduce barriers to quality palliative care in urban and rural settings. Adapting and implementing this model across cultures has potential to improve palliative care access to underserved populations.
Despite efforts to improve access to palliative care services, a significant number of patients still have unmet needs throughout their continuum of care. As such, this project was conducted to increase recognition of patients who could benefit from palliative care, increase referrals, and connect regional sites. This study utilized Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles through a quality improvement approach to develop and test the Palliative Care Screening Tool and aimed to screen 100% of patients within 24 hours who were admitted to selected units by February 2017. The intervention was implemented in 3 different units, each within community hospitals. Patients 18 years or older were screened if they were admitted to one of the selected units for the project, regardless of their diagnosis, age, or comorbidities. The percentage of newly admitted patients who were screened and the total number of palliative care consults were assessed as outcome measures. The tool was met with varying compliance among the 3 sites. However, there was an overall increase in consults across all hospital sites, and an increase in the proportion of noncancer patients was demonstrated. Although the aim was not reached, the tool helped to create a shift in the demographic of patients identified as palliative.
BACKGROUND: General Practitioners (GPs) face challenges when providing palliative care, including an ageing, multimorbid population, and falling GP numbers. A 'public health palliative care' approach, defined as "working with communities to improve people's experience of death, dying and bereavement", is gaining momentum. 'Compassionate communities' is one example, with a focus on linking professional health carers with supportive community networks. Primary care is central to the approach, which has been incorporated into United Kingdom GP palliative care guidance. No research to date, however, has investigated GP perspectives of these approaches. Our aim, therefore, was to explore GP perceptions of a public health approach to palliative care, and compassionate communities.
METHODS: GPs working in the United Kingdom were recruited through university teaching and research networks using snowball sampling. Purposive sampling ensured wide representation of gender, level of experience and practice populations. Semi-structured, digitally audio-recorded interviews were conducted with nine GPs. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and thematic analysis was undertaken, informed by a qualitative descriptive methodology. Interviews continued until data saturation was reached.
RESULTS: Most participants were unfamiliar with the term 'compassionate communities', but recognised examples within their practice. Three major themes with seven subthemes were identified: 1) Perceived potential of compassionate communities, including: 'maximising use of existing community services'; 'influencing health outside of healthcare'; and 'combatting taboo', 2) Perceived challenges of compassionate communities, including: 'patient safety'; 'limited capacity of the community'; 'limited capacity of general practice', and 'applicability of public health to palliative care', and 3) The role of the GP in compassionate communities.
CONCLUSIONS: GPs recognised the importance of the wider community in caring for palliative care patients, however most were unfamiliar with the compassionate community approach. Participants held differing views regarding the application of the model, and the position of general practice within this. Further research into the approach's practical implementation, and exploring the views of other key stakeholders, would help establish the feasibility of compassionate communities in practice, and guide its future application.
BACKGROUND: Worldwide, pharmacy practice is changing to include new roles and responsibilities. Laws enabling the implementation of assisted dying are expanding in international jurisdictions. Pharmacy practice in assisted dying is subsequently expanding. However, studies of how pharmacists experience their practice when engaged in assisted dying are absent. To progress research into the lived experiences of pharmacists practicing in assisted dying, the development of an inquiry framework to guide such research is the first step.
OBJECTIVE: The objective was to develop a theoretical framework of inquiry for use in subsequent continuing research which may explore the actual experience of pharmacy practice in assisted dying.
METHODS: Perspectives were gathered from expert and senior pharmacists who were anticipating the imminent implementation of assisted dying practice. Analysis focused on understanding what aspects of practice experience were important to them. Interview-conversations centred on the question: If you had the chance to talk to experienced pharmacist practitioners who have been involved in the practice of assisted dying, what aspects regarding their experiences, would you like to know about? A conventional approach to qualitative content analysis was utilized to analyze the data.
RESULTS: Findings summarized questions posed by pharmacists contemplating the implementation of assisted dying practice. These perspectives formed the foundation of a theoretical inquiry framework constituted by 8 inter-related dimensional range-continuums. Each range-continuum, designed to explore the lived experiences of pharmacists in practice, is defined. Examples of how the inquiry dimensions will be used to inform future exploratory research are offered within the framework.
CONCLUSIONS: The theoretical inquiry framework will be used to develop knowledge for pharmacists contemplating participation (or not) in assisted dying practice. It is timely to progress research that reveals the informed experiences of pharmacists that are actually practicing in this area. The framework may be adapted for researching pharmacists' experience in other practice areas and contexts.
OBJECTIVE: To identify barriers, as perceived by parents, to good care for children with life-threatening conditions.
DESIGN: In a nationwide qualitative study, we held in-depth interviews regarding end-of-life care with parents of children (aged 1 to 12 years) who were living with a life-threatening illness or who had died after a medical trajectory (a maximum of 5 years after the death of the child). Sampling was aimed at obtaining maximum variety for a number of factors. The interviews were transcribed and analysed.
SETTING: The Netherlands.
PARTICIPANTS: 64 parents of 44 children.
RESULTS: Parents identified six categories of difficulties that create barriers in the care for children with a life-threatening condition. First, parents wished for more empathetic and open communication about the illness and prognosis. Second, organisational barriers create bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of continuity of care. Third, parents wished for more involvement in decision-making. Fourth, parents wished they had more support from the healthcare team on end-of-life decision-making. Fifth, parents experienced a lack of attention for the family during the illness and after the death of their child. Sixth, parents experienced an overemphasis on symptom-treatment and lack of attention for their child as a person.
CONCLUSIONS: The barriers as perceived by parents focussed almost without exception on non-medical aspects: patient-doctor relationships; communication; decision-making, including end-of-life decision-making; and organisation. The perceived barriers indicate that care for children with a life-threatening condition focusses too much on symptoms and not enough on the human beings behind these symptoms.
BACKGROUND: The 3 Wishes Project (3WP) is an end-of-life program that honors the dignity of dying patients by fostering meaningful connections among patients, families, and clinicians. Since 2013, it has become embedded in the culture of end-of-life care in over 20 ICUs across North America. The purpose of the current study is to describe the variation in implementation of 3WP across sites, in order to ascertain which factors facilitated multicenter implementation, which factors remain consistent across sites, and which may be adapted to suit local needs.
METHODS: Using the methodology of qualitative description, we collected interview and focus group data from 85 clinicians who participated in the successful initiation and sustainment of 3WP in 9 ICUs. We describe the transition between different models of 3WP implementation, from core clinical program to the incorporation of various research activities. We describe various sources of financial and in-kind resources accessed to support the program.
RESULTS: Beyond sharing a common goal of improving end-of-life care, sites varied considerably in organizational context, staff complement, and resources. Despite these differences, the program was successfully implemented at each site and eventually evolved from a clinical or research intervention to a general approach to end-of-life care. Key to this success was flexibility and the empowerment of frontline staff to tailor the program to address identified needs with available resources. This adaptability was fueled by cross-pollination of ideas within and outside of each site, resulting in the establishment of a network of like-minded individuals with a shared purpose.
CONCLUSIONS: The successful initiation and sustainment of 3WP relied on local adaptations to suit organizational needs and resources. The semi-structured nature of the program facilitated these adaptations, encouraged creative and important ways of relating within local clinical cultures, and reinforced the main tenet of the program: meaningful human connection at the end of life. Local adaptations also encouraged a team approach to care, supplementing the typical patient-clinician dyad by explicitly empowering the healthcare team to collectively recognize and respond to the needs of dying patients, families, and each other.
OBJECTIVE: Communication and patient-centred care are important determinants for timely initiation of palliative care. Therefore, we aimed to understand and explain the behaviour "starting a conversation about palliative care with a professional carer" from the perspective of people with incurable cancer.
METHODS: A qualitative study using semi-structured face-to-face interviews with 25 people with incurable cancer: 13 not (yet) receiving palliative care and 12 receiving palliative care; 4 started the conversation themselves. Determinants related to the defined behaviour were matched with concepts in existing behavioural theories.
RESULTS: Both positive and negative stances towards starting a conversation about palliative care with a professional carer were found. Influencing behavioural factors were identified, such as knowledge (e.g. about palliative care), attitude (e.g. association of palliative care with quality of life) and social influence (e.g. relationship with the professional carer). We modelled the determinants into a behavioural model.
CONCLUSION: The behavioural model developed helps to explain why people with incurable cancer do or do not start a conversation about palliative care with their professional carer. By targeting the modifiable determinants of the model, promising interventions can be developed to help patients taken the initiative in communication about palliative care with a professional carer.
OBJECTIVES: Hospice care (HC) is seen as a comprehensive approach, that enhances quality of end-of-life (EOL) care, for terminally ill patients. Despite its positive aspects, HC enrolment is disproportionate for rural patients, who are less likely to use HC in comparison to their urban counterparts. The purpose of this study was to explore decision-making experiences, related to utilisation of HC programmes from a retrospective perspective, with family caregivers (FCGs) in a rural US-Mexico border region.
DESIGN: This qualitative study was conducted from May 2017 to January 2018 using semistructured face to face interviews with FCGs. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
SETTING: The HC programme was situated at a local home health agency, located in rural Southern California, USA.
PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-eight informal FCGs of patients who were actively enrolled in the HC programme agreed to participate in the study.
RESULTS: Conversation about HC as an option was initiated by home healthcare staff (39.3%), followed by physicians (32.1%). Emerging themes related to challenges in utilisation of HC and decision-making included: (1) communication barriers; (2) lack of knowledge/misperception about HC; (3) emotional difficulties, including fear of losing their patient, doubt and uncertainty about the decision, denial and (4) patients are not ready for HC. Facilitators included: (1) patient's known EOL wishes; (2) FCG-physician EOL communication; (3) the patient's deteriorating health and (4) home as the place for death.
CONCLUSIONS: HC patients' FCGs in this rural region reported a lack of knowledge or misunderstanding of HC. It is recommended that healthcare providers need to actively engage family members in patient's EOL care planning. Optimal transition to an HC programme can be facilitated when FCGs are informed and have a clear understanding about patients' medical status along with information about HC.
BACKGROUND: Innovative service models to facilitate end-of-life care for older people may be required to enable and bolster networks of care. The aim of this study was to understand how and why a new charitably funded service model of end-of-life care impacts upon the lives of older people.
METHODS: A multiple exploratory qualitative case study research strategy. Cases were 3 sites providing a new end-oflife service model for older people. The services were provided in community settings, primarily providing support in peoples own homes. Study participants included the older people receiving the end-of-life care service, their informal carers, staff providing care within the service and other stakeholders. Data collection included individual interviews with older people and informal carers at 2 time points, focus group interviews with staff and local stakeholders, nonparticipant observation of meetings, and a final cross-case deliberative panel discussion workshop. Framework analysis facilitated analysis within and across cases.
RESULTS: Twenty-three service users and 5 informal carers participated in individual interviews across the cases. Two focus groups were held with an additional 12 participants, and 19 people attended the deliberative panel workshop. Important elements contributing to the experience and impacts of the service included organisation, where services felt they were 'outsiders,' the focus of the services and their flexible approach; and the impacts particularly in enriching relationships and improving mental health.
CONCLUSION: These end-of-life care service models operated in a space between the healthcare system and the person's life world. This meant there could be ambiguity around their services, where they occupied a liminal, but important, space. These services are potentially important to older people, but should not be overly constrained or they may lose the very flexibility that enables them to have impact.
BACKGROUND: Research on the patient experience of receiving palliative care across a number of settings is increasing, but the majority of these investigations are situated within the context of developed countries. There is limited research from resource-limited countries, especially with regard to patients with cancer who receive hospice care. The present study explored the lived experience of attending hospice care facilities in South Africa to develop a bottom-up understanding from the perspectives of patients themselves.
METHODS: A qualitative cross-sectional study was designed to examine how patients experienced receiving hospice care We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with thirteen, purposively selected patients living with terminal cancer and receiving in-patient or day care palliative services from a hospice organisation in South Africa. We used inductive thematic analysis to analyse the data.
RESULTS: We identified three themes that reflected a process of transformation that was experienced by participants during their engagement with the hospice services. The first theme describes participants' initial reluctance to be linked to the hospice as a result of the stereotypic perceptions of hospice as being associated with death and dying. The second theme presents the perceived positive impact on patients' physical and psychosocial wellbeing which resulted from the highly valued interactions with staff and other patients as well as patients' engagement with creative activities. The final theme delineates the transformation of hospice into a second 'family' and 'home' and the restoration of an identity that expands beyond the 'sick' role.
CONCLUSIONS: Receiving hospice care that sensitively attends to patients' psychosocial and physical needs helps people to re-create a sense of homeliness within the world, re-orient themselves toward a meaningful life and re-configure their relationship with self. Patient experience of receiving hospice care in South Africa does not appear dissimilar to that reported by patients in resource-rich countries, suggesting underlying commonalities. There is a need for raising awareness and educating the public about what palliative care can offer to those in need. Public health campaigns could help reduce the stigma attached to palliative care, deflect negative perceptions, and communicate the benefits for patients, families and communities in culturally sensitive ways.
BACKGROUND: Spiritual care is frequently cited as a key component of hospice care in Taiwanese healthcare and beyond. The aim of this research is to gauge physicians and nurses' self-reported perspectives and clinical practices on the roles of their professions in addressing spiritual care in an inpatient palliative care unit in a tertiary hospital with Buddhist origins.
METHODS: We performed semi-structured interviews with physicians and nurses working in hospice care over a year on their self-reported experiences in inpatient spiritual care. We utilized a directed approach to qualitative content analysis to identify themes emerging from interviews.
RESULTS: Most participants identified as neither spiritual nor religious. Themes in defining spiritual care, spiritual distress, and spiritual care challenges included understanding patient values and beliefs, fear of the afterlife and repercussions of poor family relationships, difficulties in communication, the patient's medical state, and a perceived lack of preparedness and time to deliver spiritual care.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggests that Taiwanese physicians and nurses overall find spiritual care difficult to define in practice and base perceptions and practices of spiritual care largely on patient's emotional and physical needs. Spiritual care is also burdened logistically by difficulties in navigating family and cultural dynamics, such as speaking openly about death. More research on spiritual care in Taiwan is needed to define the appropriate training, practice, and associated challenges in provision of spiritual care.
Purpose: To explore the experiences of expatriate nurses caring for Muslim patients near end-of-life in a palliative care unit in the United Arab Emirates.
Methods: A qualitative descriptive study, with data collected through semi structured individual interviews with nine expatriate nurses working in a palliative care unit in one hospital in the United Arab Emirates. Thematic analysis of the data transcripts used a structured inductive approach.
Results: Analysis of the interview transcripts yielded three themes. First, language was a significant barrier in end-of-life care but was transcended when nurses practiced authentically, using presence, empathetic touch and spiritual care. Secondly, relationships between nurses, patients and families were strengthened over time, which was not always possible due to late presentation in the palliative care unit. Finally, nurses were continually in discussions with physicians, families and other nurses, co-creating the meaning of new information and experiences within the hospital policy context.
Conclusion: For expatriate nurses, palliative nursing in a Muslim middle eastern country is complex, requiring nurses to be creative in their communication to co-create meaning in an emotionally intensive environment. Like other palliative care settings, time can strengthen relationships with patients and their families, but local cultural norms often meant that patients came to palliative care late in their disease trajectory. Preparing expatriate nurses for work in specialist palliative care settings requires skill development in advanced communication and spiritual practices, as well as principles of palliative care and tenets of Muslim culture.