OBJECTIVE: To know the facilities and difficulties the palliative care team professionals experience in the implementation process of advance healthcare directives.
METHOD: Exploratory-descriptive study with a qualitative approach, involving 51 professionals from seven palliative care teams in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The data were collected between December 2018 and April 2019 and discursive textual analysis was applied.
RESULTS: The facilities found were: the approach by the palliative care team; listening and respecting patients' wishes; effective communication between professionals, patients, and family members and resolution of difficult situations. The difficulties reported were: legal issues; the lack of knowledge of professionals about the subject; the lack of institutional protocols; the difficulty in talking about death and the family barrier.
CONCLUSION: Despite the perceived facilities and difficulties, palliative care professionals intend to work based on the patients' desires and will, aiming to offer dignity in the dying process.
Objective: Characterize hospice staff practices and perspectives on discussing end-of-life care preferences with patients/families, including those desiring intensive treatment and/or full code.
Background: Patients in the United States can elect hospice while remaining full code or seeking intensive interventions, for example, blood transfusions, or chemotherapy. These preferences conflict with professional norms, hospice philosophy, and Medicare hospice payment policies. Little is known about how hospice staff manage patient/family preferences for full-code status and intensive treatments.
Methods: We recruited employees of four nonprofit US hospices with varying clinical and hospice experience for semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Open-ended questions explored participants' practices and perceptions of discussing end-of-life care preferences in hospice, with specific probes about intensive treatment or remaining full code. Interdisciplinary researchers coded and analyzed data using the constant comparative method.
Results: Participants included 25% executive leaders, 14% quality improvement administrative staff, 61% clinicians (23 nurses, 21 social workers, 7 physicians, and 2 chaplains). Participants reported challenges in engaging patients/families about end-of-life care preferences. Preferences for intensive treatment or full-code status presented an ethical dilemma for some participants. Participants described strategies to navigate such preferences, including educating about treatment options, and expressed diverse reactions, including accepting or attempting to shift enrollee preferences.
Discussion: This study illuminates a rarely studied aspect of hospice care: how hospice staff engage with enrollees choosing full code and/or intensive treatments. Such patient preferences can produce ethical dilemmas for hospice staff. Enhanced communication training and guidelines, updated organizational and federal policies, and ethics consult services may mitigate these dilemmas.
Long-term care (LTC) nurses are a critical nexus for patient communication and vital to advance care planning due to their professional role and breadth of patient relationships. The current study's aim was to explore the communication strategies Midwestern LTC nurses use to clarify patients' end-of-life (EOL) care preferences. Two focus groups used a phenomenological framework to elucidate the experiences of 14 RNs. Data analysis revealed two themes grounded in time: (a) nurses use time to assess patients' EOL situation and assist patients to discern care options; and (b) nurses educate patients about EOL care, adjust care plans, and develop trusting relationships. Two themes were grounded in clinical experience: (a) nurses become persistent advocates and educators to initiate and sustain EOL communication; and (b) nurses learn consistency in communication, including awareness of patients' nonverbal communication. Nurses shared that EOL communication is never "done"; time frames to assess, educate, and clarify are continuous.
Purpose: Prolonged living with chronic illness and disability expands the discussion of end-of-life conversation because of the complex role of intercommunication among patient, family, and healthcare staff. Little is known about such interaction from participants’ different perspectives. This qualitative case study examined end-of-life conversation among patient, family, and staff during long-term hospitalization in a neurological rehabilitation department.
Methods: After the patient’s death, 18 participants responded to in-depth semi-structured interviews: 16 healthcare staff and two family members (the patient’s wife and brother). In addition, we used the wife’s autoethnographic documentation of her experiences during end-of-life conversation.
Results: Thematic analysis produced three themes: (1) The Rehabilitation Department’s Mission – Toward Life or Death? (2) The Staff’s Perception of the Patient; (3) Containing Death: End-of-life Conversation from Both Sides of the Bed. These themes represented participants’ different perspectives in the intercommunication in overt and covert dialogues, which changed over time. Death’s presence–absence was expressed by movement between clinging to life and anticipating death.
Conclusion: The study findings emphasize the importance of practitioners’ training to accept and openly discuss death as an inseparable part of life-long disability, and the implementation of this stance during end-of-life care via sensitive conversations with patients and their families.
IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION It is vital for rehabilitation professionals to be trained to process and accept end-of-life issues as a natural and inseparable part of the life discourse among people with disabilities and their families. Rehabilitation professionals need to acquire tools to grasp the spoken and unspoken issues related to life and death, and to communicate their impressions and understandings with people with disabilities and their families. Rehabilitation professionals need to encourage an open dialogue when communicating with people with disabilities and their families on processes related to parting and death.
Background: End-of-life (EOL) conversations are highly important for patients living with life-threatening diseases and for their relatives. Talking about the EOL is associated with reduced costs and better quality of care in the final weeks of life. However, there is therefore a need for further clarification of the actual wishes of patients and their relatives concerning EOL conversations in an acute hospital setting.
Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore the wishes of patients and their relatives with regard to talking about the EOL in an acute hospital setting when living with a life-threatening disease.
Methods: This study is a qualitative study using semi-structured in-depth interviews. A total of 17 respondents (11 patients and six spouses) participated. The patients were identified by the medical staff in a medical and surgical ward using SPICT™. The interview questions were focused on the respondents’ thoughts on and wishes about their future lives, as well as on their wishes regarding talking about the EOL in a hospital setting.
Results: This study revealed that the wish to talk about the EOL differed widely between respondents. Impairment to the patients’ everyday lives received the main focus, whereas talking about EOL was secondary. Conversations on EOL were an individual matter and ranged from not wanting to think about the EOL, to being ready to plan the funeral and expecting the healthcare professionals to be very open about the EOL. The conversations thus varied between superficial communication and crossing boundaries.
Conclusion: The wish to talk about the EOL in an acute hospital setting is an individual matter and great diversity exists. This individualistic stance requires the development of conversational tools that can assist both the patients and the relatives who wish to have an EOL conversation and those who do not. At the same time, staff should be trained in initiating and facilitating EOL discussions.
PURPOSE: The Norwegian Health Personnel Act (HPA §10a) obliges health professionals to contribute to meeting minor children's need for information about their parents' illness and prognosis. Previous research has shown that many parents withhold information about illness and anticipated death from their children. This study explored main considerations for palliative health-care professionals in these situations, and how they negotiate conflicting considerations of confidentiality and child involvement.
METHOD: This qualitative exploratory study involved semi-structured interviews with 11 palliative health-care professionals. Hermeneutics informed the data analysis.
RESULTS: The health professionals' main considerations were sustaining patients' hope and building trust in the professional-patient relationship. Both concerns were grounded in respect for patient autonomy. The health professionals negotiated patient autonomy and child involvement in different ways, defined in the present analysis on a continuum ranging from granting full patient autonomy to going directly against patients' will.
CONCLUSIONS: The professional-patient relationship is the primary consideration in the health care context, and decision making on the degree of children's involvement happens in a dialogical process between health professionals and patients. Close professional-patient relationships might increase the emotional impacts on health professionals, who consequently might give greater relative weight to patients' will. We propose that procedures for initiating collaboration with professionals in the child's everyday life context help health professionals involving the child without threatening trust.
BACKGROUND: Patients have a 'need to know' (instrumental need) and a 'need to feel known' (affective need). During consultations with patients with limited health literacy (LHL) in the palliative phase of their disease, both the instrumental and the affective communication skills of healthcare providers are important. The study aims to explore instrumental and affective communication between care providers and LHL patients in the palliative phase of COPD or cancer.
METHODS: In 2018, consultations between LHL patients in the palliative phase of cancer or COPD and their healthcare providers were video-recorded in four hospitals in the Netherlands. As there was no observation algorithm available for this setting, several items were created to parameterize healthcare providers' instrumental communication (seven items: understanding, patient priorities, medical status, treatment options, treatment consequences, prognosis, and information about emotional distress) and affective communication (six items: hope, support, reassurance, empathy, appreciation, and emotional coping). The degree of each item was recorded for each consultation, with relevant segments of the observation selected and transcribed to support the items.
RESULTS: Consultations between 17 care providers and 39 patients were video-recorded and analyzed. Care providers primarily used instrumental communication, most often by giving information about treatment options and assessing patients' care priorities. Care providers assessed patients' understanding of their disease less often. The patients' prognosis was not mentioned in half the consultations. Within the affective domain, the care providers did provide support for their patients; providing hope, reassurance, empathy, and appreciation and discussing emotional coping were observed less often.
CONCLUSIONS: Care providers used mostly instrumental communication, especially treatment information, in consultations with LHL patients in the palliative phase of cancer or COPD. Most care providers did not check if the patient understood the information, which is rather crucial, especially given patients' limited level of health literacy. Healthcare providers did provide support for patients, but other expressions of affective communication by care providers were less common. To adapt the communication to LHL patients in palliative care, care providers could be less wordy and reduce the amount of information, use 'teach-back' techniques and pay more attention to affective communication.
D'une certaine manière, on ne peut rejoindre l'autre en sa solitude sans sortir de la nôtre et ce qui se donne du premier coup d'oeil comme une possible limitation est, en fait, la meilleure voie qui nous soit accessible. Ce "lieu sans lieu" qui dit "je", qui relève de l'intime, peut être notre boussole intérieure : avec elle, nous reconnaissons l'appel à être, non pas le seul, mais un unique ; nous reconnaissons aussi notre manque fondamental qui ouvre au désir de l'altérité.
OBJECTIVE: Patients with advanced diseases and frail older adults often face decisions regarding life-prolonging treatment. Our aim was to provide an overview of the feasibility and effectiveness of tools that support communication between healthcare professionals and patients regarding decisions on life-prolonging treatments in hospital settings.
DESIGN: Systematic review: We searched PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Embase, Cochrane Library and Google Scholar (2009-2019) to identify studies that reported feasibility or effectiveness of tools that support communication about life-prolonging treatments in adult patients with advanced diseases or frail older adults in hospital settings. The Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool was used for quality appraisal of the included studies.
RESULTS: Seven studies were included, all involving patients with advanced cancer. The overall methodological quality of the included studies was moderate to high. Five studies described question prompt lists (QPLs), either as a stand-alone tool or as part of a multifaceted programme; two studies described decision aids (DAs). All QPLs and one DA were considered feasible by both patients with advanced cancer and healthcare professionals. Two studies reported on the effectiveness of QPL use, revealing a decrease in patient anxiety and an increase in cues for discussing end-of-life care with physicians. The effectiveness of one DA was reported; it led to more understanding of the treatment in patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Use of QPLs or DAs, as a single intervention or part of a programme, may help in communicating about treatment options with patients, which is an important precondition for making informed decisions.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this paper was to identify current barriers, facilitators and experiences of raising and discussing palliative care with people with advanced cancer.
METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients with advanced cancer and healthcare professionals (HCPs). Patients were included who had and had not been referred to palliative care. Transcripts were analysed using framework analysis.
RESULTS: Twenty-four patients and eight HCPs participated. Two overarching themes and five sub-themes emerged: Theme one-referral process: timing and triggers, responsibility. Theme two-engagement: perception of treatment, prognosis and palliative care, psychological and emotional preparedness for discussion, and understanding how palliative care could benefit present and future care.
CONCLUSION: There is a need to identify suitable patients earlier in their cancer trajectory, address misconceptions about palliative care, treatment and prognosis, and better prepare patients and HCPs to have meaningful conversations about palliative care. Patients and HCPs need to establish and communicate the relevance of palliative care to the patient's current and future care, and be clear about the referral process.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The aim was to explore how nurses experience compassionate care for patients with cancer and family caregivers in different phases of the palliative pathway.
BACKGROUND: Compassion is fundamental to palliative care and viewed as a cornerstone of high-quality care provision. Healthcare authorities emphasize that patients should have the opportunity to stay at home for as long as possible. There are, however, care deficiencies in the palliative pathway.
DESIGN: This study employed a qualitative design using focus groups and a hermeneutic approach.
METHODS: Four focus groups with three to seven female nurses in each group were conducted in Mid-Norway in 2018. Nurses' ages ranged from 28-60 years (mean age = 45 years), and they were recruited through purposive sampling (N = 21). Compassionate care was chosen as the theoretical framework. Reporting followed the COREQ guidelines.
RESULTS: Three themes expressing compassionate care related to different phases of the pathway were identified: (a) information and dialogue, (b) creating a space for dying and (c) family caregivers' acceptance of death.
CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that it was crucial to create a space for dying, characterized by trust, collaboration, good relationships, empathy, attention, silence, caution, slowness, symptom relief and the absence of noise and conflict.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: The quality of compassion possessed by individual practitioners, as well as the overall design of the healthcare system, must be considered when creating compassionate care for patients and their family caregivers. Nursing educators and health authorities should pay attention to the development of compassion in education and practice. Further research should highlight patients' and family caregivers' experiences of compassionate care and determine how healthcare systems can support compassionate care.
Background: The growing trend in providing palliative care and end-of-life services has dictated that healthcare providers be adequately trained to care for people with serious illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD). These progressive inflammatory diseases lead to physical, cognitive and emotional deficits and have exceptionally high care demands leading to high levels of distress. Because the impact on the delivery of patient care is influenced by the specialists' knowledge and comfort discussing end-of-life issues, it is concerning that interventions to address unmet palliative care needs in MS and NMOSD rarely include clinician-patient dyads.
Objectives: To evaluate the neurology clinicians' knowledge and level of comfort discussing palliative care and end-of-life issues.
Design: A cross sectional survey was conducted. The statistical analyses included frequencies, chi square statistics and logistic regression.
Setting/Subjects: 414 MS specialists answered an online anonymous survey. The survey was conducted using email distributions to MS professionals through the Consortium of MS Centers (CMSC), the International Organization of MS Nurses (IOMSN) and the UK Nurses' MS Organization.
Measurement: The "End of Life Professional Caregiver Survey" (EPCS) was used to collect data.
Results: The majority of the multidisciplinary professionals were female, white, nurses, and older than 40 years of age. 41% had their own advance directives and 57.6% had end-of-life basic training. There was a statistically significant association between end-of-life training or having advance directives and comfort discussing palliative care and end of life issues. Professionals that had basic end-of-life training and their own advance directives had higher comfort discussing code status, specific end-of-life issues, and advance directive planning.
Conclusions: Basic end-of-life training and having advance directives among MS professionals were associated with better communication of palliative care and end-of-life domains with patients and their care partners.
Background: A major goal of hospice care is to provide individually tailored emotional and spiritual support to caregivers of hospice patients.
Objectives: Examine the association between reported emotional support and caregivers' overall rating of hospice care, overall and by race/ethnicity/language.
Subjects: We analyzed survey data corresponding to 657,805 decedents/caregivers who received care from 3160 hospice programs during January 2017–December 2018.
Measurements: Linear regression models examined the association between caregiver-reported receipt of emotional and spiritual support (“too little” vs. “right amount” vs. “too much”) and overall rating of the hospice (0 vs. 100 rating). Interaction terms assessed variation in this association by race/ethnicity/language.
Results: “Too much” emotional support was less common than “too little,” except for caregivers of Hispanic decedents responding in Spanish. “Too little” support was strongly associated with lower hospice ratings for all groups (compared to “right amount” of support, p < 0.001). In contrast, the negative association between “too much” support and hospice rating was much smaller (p < 0.001) among caregivers of white and black decedents. “Too much” support was associated with more positive ratings among caregivers of Hispanic decedents (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Receipt of “too much” support is a less common and much weaker driver of poor hospice ratings than receipt of “too little” support for all groups, and is not always viewed negatively. This suggests that for hospice evaluation, “too much” support should not be scored equivalently to “too little” support and that providing enough support should be a hospice priority.
BACKGROUND: Shared decision-making (SDM) is the process in which healthcare professionals and patients jointly discuss and decide which care and treatment policy is to be followed. The importance of SDM is increasingly being recognised across health settings, including palliative care. Little is known about SDM with people with intellectual disabilities (IDs) in the last phase of life. This review aimed to explore to which extent and in which way people with ID in the last phase of life are involved in decision-making about their care and treatment.
METHOD: In this scoping review, we systematically searched in the Embase, Medline and PsycINFO databases for empirical studies on decision-making with people with ID in the last phase of life.
RESULTS: Of a total of 281 identified titles and abstracts, 10 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. All focused on medical end-of-life decisions, such as foregoing life-sustaining treatment, do-not-attempt-resuscitation orders or palliative sedation. All studies emphasise the relevance of involving people with ID themselves, or at least their relatives, in making decisions at the end of life. Still, only two papers described processes of decision-making in which persons with ID actively participated. Furthermore, in only one paper, best practices and guidelines for decision-making in palliative care for people with ID were defined.
CONCLUSION: Although the importance of involving people with ID in the decision-making process is emphasised, best practices or guidelines about what this should look like are lacking. We recommend developing aids that specifically support SDM with people with ID in the last phase of life.
OBJECTIVE: Practitioners are often reluctant to engage in conversations that acknowledge patient's health concerns. This can affect patient and family carer psychological well-being. The Attitude to Health Change scales, adapted from the validated Adult Attitude to Grief scale, may have potential to address the psychological impact of illness and facilitate conversations in palliative care. To explore how health and social care professionals experience using the Attitude to Health Change Scales within hospice settings.
METHODS: Qualitative focus groups with practitioners currently using the Attitude to Health Change scales in three UK hospices. Two researchers conducted the interviews, developed the thematic framework and independently coded the transcripts using a framework analysis approach.
RESULTS: Three focus groups (n = 21 practitioners). The scale was used to assess and reassess levels of vulnerability and resilience to identify the need for support and to facilitate structured in-depth conversations. Factors that influenced scale implementation included the following: practitioner personal comfort and training; patient and family carer willingness to engage with the scales and having a practitioner "champion" within the organisation.
CONCLUSION: This exploratory work has identified the potential value of the scales for assessment and to facilitate conversations. Further research needs to incorporate the views of patients and family carers.
In March 2020, Montefiore Health System in the Bronx, New York, received an influx of adults who were critically ill with coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), a 130-bed facility attached to an adult hospital, accommodated adult patients in the PICU, inpatient wards, and post-anesthesia care unit. CHAM pediatric faculty and housestaff were deployed to serve as primary care physicians and subspecialists for these adults (up to 84 years old), anticipating up to 100 patients.
Among many challenges faced was the commitment by the pediatric faculty and staff to find a way to continue family-centered and compassionate care in the face of social distancing rules during the pandemic. Our goal was to preserve the patient’s humanity and their relationship to family and friends who were not permitted to visit. There is an ethical imperative to provide palliative care during a crisis when lives will be lost. As a result, we chose to rapidly expand our palliative care capabilities by training frontline medical providers and enlarging our pediatric palliative care presence to serve each adult admitted with COVID-19.
Jahi McMath's story has been an important reference in medicine and ethics as the landscape of the understanding of death by neurologic criteria is shifting, with families actively questioning the once-firm criterion. Palliative care providers have a role in seeking understanding and collaborating with families and clinical teams to navigate the many challenges that arise when a medical team has determined that a child has died, and their parents disagree. In this case-based narrative discussion we consider the complexity of the family experience of brain death.
BACKGROUND: A large number of the hospice patients have been reported to be with symptoms of pain. Thus, managing the patient's pain is one aspect of hospice care provision. The delivery of pain care services could be facilitated through effective communication. However, little has been done to explore the interactional details of the delivery of pain care services in palliative care.
METHODS: Conversation analysis is a useful method to explore the interactional details of interaction by hospice care providers and terminally ill patients. Using the method of Conversation Analysis (CA), this study aims to demonstrate how the hospice care provider employs different types of interactional practices to address the patient's pain concerns. The data showed in this study are collected from the Alexander St website http://ctiv.alexanderstreet.com , an educational resource presenting a large collection of psycho-therapeutic videos.
RESULTS: In this study, an illustrative analysis is demonstrated to show the potential of conversation analysis for research on pain talk in palliative care. It has been shown that conversation analysis could contribute to unfolding the interactional details regarding "pain talk" in hospice care settings. Specifically, conversation analysis could provide a detailed description and interpretation of the conversational practices, which are used to construct hospice care provider participation in delivering pain talk. In addition, conversation analysis could also demonstrate the interactional resources by which patients disclose their experiences of physical or spiritual pain to the hospice care provider and the way how the hospice care provider responds to the patient's troubles talk or feelings talk.
CONCLUSIONS: This study identifies five types of interactional resources which are used to deal with the patient's pain concerns in hospice care setting. A conversation analytical study of pain talk in hospice care could provide a turn-by-turn description of how the hospice care provider communicates with the terminally ill patient in terms of the patient's pain concerns. The findings in this study could inform how the hospice care provider initiates, delivers and develops a pain talk with the terminally ill patient effectively.