Background: The absence of curative medication for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) makes palliative care and understanding quality of life (QoL) in ALS a clinical priority. Previous qualitative research has explored the concept of QoL in terms of illness impact on life perspectives and sense of self.
Objective: In this research, we explored 'concerns' - one of the four aspects in the World Health Organisation's conceptualisation of QoL - towards adding to the literature.
Methods: In-depth interviews with 26 individuals with ALS were subjected to thematic analysis involving both inductive and deductive approaches to explore participant's concerns, and to evaluate the relevance of their concerns for understanding QoL in ALS.
Findings: The analysis showed that concerns for significant others contribute to participant's QoL because of their existential value. It was important for participants to minimise the impact of limitations and burdens associated with ALS on significant others, even at a cost to self.
Discussion: The current study supports a holistic approach in service provision, ensuring the inclusion of relevant significant others. It is further suggested that clinicians explore the specifics of burdens perceived by patients in order to support them in minimising the burdens for their significant others.
Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) has become an important cornerstone of symptomatic treatment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), improving survival and quality of life. In this review, we summarize the most important recent developments and insights, including evidence of efficacy, indication criteria and time of initiation, ventilation parameters and adaptation strategies, treatment of complicating factors, transition from NIV to invasive ventilation, termination of NIV and end-of-life management. Recent publications have questioned former conventions and guideline recommendations, especially with regard to timing and prognostic factors; therefore, a fresh look and re-evaluation of current evidence is needed.
Un témoignage de résilience et de courage d'un homme atteint de la maladie de Charcot, syndrome neurodégénératif également appelé sclérose latérale amyotrophique (SLA). Lorsque lui est annoncé qu'il n'a plus que trois ans à vivre, l'auteur, déployant des ressources inespérées, décide de se battre et de continuer à vivre pour ses proches et pour lui-même malgré sa tétraplégie.
Hope is an important factor in coping and adjusting to life-threatening disease. In this study, we examined the meaning of hope among people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Semi-structured interviews with 12 people revealed that hope had two contradictory meanings. For some, hope was considered an obstacle to achieving control and to actively cope with the disease. Alternatively, other people with ALS regarded hope as a crucial resource, which empowered their coping and control. These findings are discussed in the context of research and theoretical literature about hope and coping processes.
BACKGROUND: There is increasing awareness of the need for an integrated palliative care approach in chronic progressive neurological diseases. Advance care planning (ACP) is an integral part of this approach. As a systematically organized and ongoing communication process about patients' values, goals and preferences regarding medical care during serious and chronic illness, ACP aims to involve patients in decision-making before they become cognitively and communicatively incapable. However, it remains underutilized in daily neurological practice except for speciality clinics such as ALS centers. Our aim was to study ACP in the tertiary ALS center Amsterdam and to investigate patients' reflections on it. Subsequently we used this knowledge to formulate recommendations for integration of ACP in the care of patients with other chronic progressive neurological diseases.
METHODS: Non-participating observations of all appointments of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or progressive muscular atrophy (PMA) with the treating physician, in various stages of disease, during 6 consecutive months, followed by single in-depth interviews, and an inductive analysis.
RESULTS: Twenty-eight Dutch patients participated, varying in age, gender, disease onset and severity of physical decline. ACP started directly when the diagnosis was given, by means of a general outlook on the future with progressive disability and immediate introduction to a customized multidisciplinary team. During follow-up ACP was realized by regular appointments in which monitoring of the patient's status and clear communication strategies formed the basis of tailor-made discussions on treatment options. Patients accepted this policy as careful professional guidance.
CONCLUSIONS: ACP is a professional communication process throughout the whole course of progressive disease. It is feasible to integrate ACP into follow-up of patients with ALS and PMA from diagnosis onwards. Supported by recent literature, we argue that such a well-structured approach would also enhance the quality of care and life of patients with other chronic progressive neurological diseases.
Integration of a Palliative Care Specialist in ALS Clinic: Observations from one Center Palliative care specialists can aid in the care of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In this article, we describe our one-year experience incorporating a palliative care specialist into the ALS multidisciplinary team. We describe our integration model, patient selection, and visit content. Of 500 total clinic patients, 74 (14.8%) were seen by the palliative care specialist in one year. Referral was most often triggered by advance care planning needs (91%). In the initial visit with the palliative care specialist, topics most frequently covered included goals of care (84%), anxiety/depression (35%), and medical decision making about feeding tubes (27%) or tracheostomy (31%). Symptom management comprised a relatively small number of the visits, and duration of visits was limited by patient fatigue. Patients with complex goals of care cmay benefit from the input of a palliative care specialist, and unique integration models may help to facilitate care delivery.
Informal family caregivers make a significant contribution to the U.S. health care system, and the need for caregivers will likely increase. Gaining deeper insights into the caregiver experience will provide essential knowledge needed to support the future caregiver workforce delivering care. Discourse analysis is a viable approach in analyzing textual caregiver data that focuses on the end-of-life caregiving experience. The purpose of this study was to conduct an in-depth discourse analytic examination of 13 hours of caregiver interview data, which reveal the multiplicity of shifting stances and perceptions of one caregiver in the midst of end-of-life care, specifically with regard to his perceptions of self (caregiver) and other (care recipient). By isolating a specific but limited set of reference terms used throughout the discourse, we gained systematic glimpses into the mind and perceptions of this single caregiver in relation to his role as caregiver for his terminally ill wife.
OBJECTIVE: The aims of this study were to identify the unmet care needs and to examine the mediating effect of unmet supportive care needs in the relationship between functional status and quality of life (QOL) in Korean patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
METHOD: This was a cross-sectional study conducted among 186 patients with ALS recruited from a tertiary hospital in Seoul, South Korea. ALS patients' functional status, unmet supportive care needs, and QOL were assessed by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale-Revised, the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Supportive Care Needs Instrument, and the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Specific Quality of Life - Revised Instrument, respectively. Mediation analysis was tested using Baron and Kenny's regression analysis and a Sobel test.
RESULT: The mean score for functional status was 33.35 ± 8.89; for unmet supportive care needs it was 2.40 ± 0.66; and for QOL it was 4.95 ± 1.29. Functional status was significantly correlated with unmet care needs and QOL. Unmet care needs satisfaction demonstrated a complete mediating effect on the relationship between functional status and QOL of the patients with ALS (ß = –0.53, p < 0.001) and the effect was significant (Sobel test; Z = 5.48, p < 0.001).
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Although QOL was negatively affected by the functional status in our sample, the relationship was fully mediated via unmet supportive care needs. Because there is no cure for ALS, and the condition is rapidly progressive with a lethal outcome, providing care by meeting patients’ needs is a critical aspect of caring for these patients. Early assessment of supportive care needs, providing services, and referring ALS patients to appropriate resources could enhance their QOL.
Background: Cannabis is increasingly used by persons at end of life to ameliorate symptoms such as pain, spasticity, anorexia, or anxiety. Cannabis hyperemesis is a distressing adverse effect of chronic use and may cause significant morbidity. Unfortunately, the clinical presentation of this syndrome may be subtle in a person with complex medical issues or disability. Providers must remain vigilant for possible variations in presentation in these populations.
Aim: To assess literature on cannabis hyperemesis and present unique considerations for clinical assessment and treatment for patients at end of life.
Design: Initial literature scoping yielded limited evidence on the subject in the setting of chronic disease and disability. A case of cannabis hyperemesis in a person with advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is presented to illustrate challenges in diagnosis and management in this setting. A narrative synthesis of current literature on assessment and management and special considerations for evaluation and treatment for patients under palliative care was performed.
Results: Several unique considerations for the diagnosis and management of cannabis hyperemesis in palliative care patients are highlighted in the case presented, including: (1) Symptoms may possibly be abolished through decrease rather than complete abstinence from cannabis, (2) Frequent hot baths may not be present in patients with physical impairments in activities of daily living, and (3) Management of primary symptoms (pain, spasticity, nausea, and anxiety) in the end-of-life care patient must be considered to maximize comfort.
Conclusion: The presentation of cannabis hyperemesis may be atypical in palliative care patients due to disability. More work is needed to improve risk stratification for patients using cannabis for palliative care.
La sclérose latérale amyotrophique (SLA) est une maladie neurodégénérative incurable. Elle est responsable d'une dépendance croissante au cours de son évolution et nécessite le recours à des techniques de suppléance vitales. Elle peut constituer un modèle relevant d'une prise en charge palliative. Celle-ci est pourtant tardive. Il existe de véritables enjeux légaux et éthiques à aborder précocement ce type de soins. L'élaboration de directives anticipées permet de respecter l'autonomie du patient. La maladie grave rend pourtant leur élaboration difficile. L'information du patient sur les possibilités thérapeutiques curatives mais aussi palliatives peut faciliter l'expression de ses souhaits. L'approche palliative précoce dans la SLA facilite le dialogue autour de la fin de vie et pourrait faciliter les choix du patient mais aussi du médecin.
CONTEXT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an all-encompassing, life-limiting disease, resulting in the eventual paralysis of all voluntary muscles and concurrent loss of independence. As the disease advances, both patients and their family caregivers develop complex biological, psychological, and social needs, leading to increasing calls for the involvement of palliative care teams in the management of ALS.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to generate a rich description of the realities of living with ALS, equipping palliative care teams with an in-depth understanding of the experiences and needs of patients with ALS and their family caregivers.
METHODS: This study employed a mixed-methods design, with quantitative data supplementing a larger body of qualitative data. Semi-structured interviews with 42 key stakeholders, including patients, family caregivers, and health-care providers, were analyzed for themes essential for effective understanding of ALS.
RESULTS: Identified themes were organized into 2 broad categories: (1) biopsychosocial needs of patients with ALS and family caregivers and (2) the impact of ALS on spiritual and emotional well-being. Quantitative data supported the recognized themes, particularly with regard to challenges associated with preserving independence, securing sufficient social support, and managing the emotional complexities of the disease.
CONCLUSION: Study findings illustrate the intricacies of living with ALS and the importance of eliciting individualized values when caring for patients with ALS and their families. The complex biopsychosocial needs experienced by patients and family caregivers suggest numerous opportunities for meaningful palliative care involvement.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) prevalence, 5-year survival, and explore factors associated with survival in a Medicare population.
METHODS: A validated administrative claims algorithm was used to classify individual's ages 18-89 years at index date (first claim with a diagnosis of motor neuron disease or ALS between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2011) with Medicare Advantage prescription drug coverage into mutually exclusive categories: ALS, no ALS, and possible ALS. Crude prevalence and cumulative survival from index date to the date of death, disenrollment or end of the study were calculated. Cox-proportional hazards were used to estimate and explore factors associated with survival.
RESULTS: Of 2631 eligible individuals, the algorithm identified 1271 (48 %), 1157 (44 %), 203 (8 %) as ALS, no ALS and possible ALS, respectively. The 5-year period prevalence and the 2011 point prevalence of ALS were 20.5 and 11.8 per 100,000, respectively. Evidence of death was documented in 81%, 35%, and 1.6% of the ALS, no ALS or possible ALS groups, respectively. Unadjusted median survival time was 388, 542 and 1473 days for the ALS, no ALS and possible ALS groups, respectively. Seeing a psychiatrist or neurologist at the index visit, having respiratory or genitourinary comorbidities, and the number of pre-index acute inpatient admissions were associated with shorter survival.
CONCLUSIONS: Surveillance data from a Medicare population demonstrated a higher prevalence of ALS. Results highlight the need for effective ALS treatment options and resources for patients with ALS who will likely face limited therapeutic choices and care options at the end of life.
Patients with neurologic illnesses are commonly encountered by palliative care (PC) clinicians though many clinicians feel uncomfortable caring for these patients. Understanding how to diagnose, treat, communicate with, and prognosticate for neurology patients will improve the confidence and competence of PC providers in the neurology setting. This article offers PC providers 10 useful tips that neurologists with PC training think all PC providers should know to improve care for patients with neurologic illness.
Background: Chronic progressive neurological diseases like high grade glioma (HGG), Parkinson's disease (PD), and multiple sclerosis (MS) are incurable, and associated with increasing disability including cognitive impairment, and reduced life expectancy. Patients with these diseases have complex care needs. Therefore, timely advance care planning (ACP) is required. Our aim was to investigate timing and content of discussions on treatment restrictions, i.e., to initiate, withhold, or withdraw treatment in patients with HGG, PD, and MS, from the neurologists' perspective. Methods: We performed a national online survey amongst consultants in neurology and residents in The Netherlands. The questionnaire focused on their daily practice concerning timing and content of discussions on treatment restrictions with patients suffering from HGG, PD or MS. We also inquired about education and training in discussing these issues. Results: A total of 125 respondents [89 neurologists (71%), 62% male, with a median age of 44 years, and 36 residents (29%), 31% male with a median age of 29 years] responded. Initial discussions on treatment restrictions were said to take place during the first year after diagnosis in 28% of patients with HGG, and commonly no earlier than in the terminal phase in patients with PD and MS. In all conditions, significant cognitive decline was the most important trigger to advance discussions, followed by physical decline, and initiation of the terminal phase. Most discussed issues included ventilation, resuscitation, and admission to the intensive care unit. More than half of the consultants in neurology and residents felt that they needed (more) education and training in having discussions on treatment restrictions.
Conclusion: In patients with HGG discussions on treatment restrictions are initiated earlier than in patients with PD or MS. However, in all three diseases these discussions usually take place when significant physical and cognitive decline has become apparent and commonly mark the initiation of end-of-life care. More than half of the responding consultants in neurology and residents feel the need for improvement of their skills in performing these discussions.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims (1) to assess physicians' attitudes toward different palliative end-of-life (EOL) practices in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) care, including forgoing artificial nutrition and hydration (FANH), continuous sedation until death (CSD), and withdrawing invasive ventilation (WIV), and toward physician-assisted dying (PAD) including physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia and (2) to explore variables influencing these attitudes.
METHODS: We used two clinical vignettes depicting ALS patients in different stages of their disease progression to assess the influence of suffering (physical/psycho-existential) on attitudes toward WIV and the influence of suffering and prognosis (short-term/long-term) on attitudes toward FANH, CSD, and PAD.
RESULTS: 50 physicians from European ALS centers and neurological departments completed our survey. Short-term prognosis had a positive impact on attitudes toward offering FANH (p = 0.014) and CSD (p = 0.048) as well as on attitudes toward performing CSD (p = 0.036) and euthanasia (p = 0.023). Predominantly psycho-existential suffering was associated with a more favorable attitude toward WIV but influenced attitudes toward performing CSD negatively. Regression analysis showed that religiosity was associated with more reluctant attitudes toward palliative EOL practices and PAD, whereas training in palliative care was associated with more favorable attitudes toward palliative EOL practices only.
CONCLUSION: ALS physicians seem to acknowledge psycho-existential suffering as a highly acceptable motive for WIV but not CSD. Physicians appear to be comfortable with responding to the patient's requests, but more reluctant to assume a proactive role in the decision-making process. Palliative care training may support ALS physicians in these challenging situations.
The aim of this meta-ethnography is to appraise the types and uses of theories relative to end-of-life decision making and to develop a conceptual framework to describe end-of-life decision making among patients with advanced cancers, heart failure, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and their caregivers or providers. We used PubMed, Embase, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) databases to extract English-language articles published between January 2002 and April 2015. Forty-three articles were included. The most common theories included decision-making models ( n = 14) followed by family-centered ( n = 11) and behavioral change models ( n = 7). A conceptual framework was developed using themes including context of decision making, communication and negotiation of decision making, characteristics of decision makers, goals of decision making, options and alternatives, and outcomes. Future research should enhance and apply these theories to guide research to develop patient-centered decision-making programs that facilitate informed and shared decision making at the end of life among patients with advanced illness and their caregivers.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal motor neuron disease that occurs in 4 among 100 000 people in the United States. Individuals with ALS gradually lose their ability to control voluntary muscles, diminishing their ability to communicate. A comprehensive multidatabase search retrieved 31 qualitative research articles that addressed persons with end-of-life experiences with ALS. Inclusion/exclusion criteria were applied and a critical appraisal was applied for the final 8 included articles. First-person data extraction from the final articles represented emergence of 3 themes significant to persons with ALS: decisions for life-sustaining support, coping and fear of what is to come, and communication with providers. Tracheostomy and ventilation as a means of prolonging life were important considerations for individuals with ALS. Persons with ALS struggled emotionally with their sudden loss of control and facing their demise. Some facets in which they did exert control, such as living wills, were hindered by patient and health care provider communication. Effective communication in end-of-life circumstances is paramount to preserving patient autonomy and dignity. This can be achieved by the patients conveying their preferences with respect to end-of-life care in advance, as well the nurses and other health care providers supporting the patients emotionally as they cope with terminal illness. Understanding patients' views regarding end-of-life circumstances is pertinent to nurses and other health care providers as they plan for palliative care.