Context: The effect of methadone on corrected QT interval (QTc) in patients with cancer pain is not well-known.
Objectives: To describe and characterize the effect of low-, moderate-, and high-dose enteral methadone on QTc interval in patients with cancer.
Methods: Retrospective cohort study including patients prescribed enteral methadone during the 27-month study period. Participants were divided into 3 methadone daily dose groups: <30 (low dose), 30 to 59 (moderate dose), =60 (high dose) mg. The primary outcome was the incidence of QTc prolongation (>450 ms for females and >430 ms for males). Secondary outcomes included the magnitude of change in QTc after starting methadone, the incidence of clinically significant QTc prolongation (>500 ms) and the prevalence of torsades de pointes and syncope.
Results: Two hundred three patients met study inclusion criteria: 91 (45%) low dose, 52 (26%) moderate dose, and 60 (29%) high dose. Incidence of QTc prolongation for low-, moderate-, and high-dose groups was 50 (55%), 37 (71%), and 43 (72%), respectively (P = .039, low vs high dose). Incidence of clinically significant QTc prolongation was 10 (11%), 4 (8%), and 7 (12%) for low-, moderate-, and high-dose groups. For patients without QTc prolongation prior to initiating methadone, 62% of moderate-dose patients and 67% of high-dose patients had QTc prolongation, while taking methadone.
Conclusion: This study found a notably high incidence of QTc prolongation in patients with cancer using enteral methadone. Future studies should aim to determine the risk of adverse cardiac effects in the cancer population and determine appropriate monitoring of methadone for pain management.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: In this review, we summarize the recently published literature that demonstrates the efficacy and safety of autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) in multiple sclerosis (MS) and highlight the importance of supportive care required for the safe and well-tolerated delivery of AHSCT.
RECENT FINDINGS: MS is an autoimmune inflammatory and degenerative disorder of the central nervous system (CNS). In the majority of patients, the illness runs a relapsing remitting course (RRMS), culminating in a secondary progressive phase with gradual accumulation of fixed disabilities. Currently available disease-modifying therapies suppress CNS inflammation but have a limited effect on preventing disease progression for which there remains no effective therapy. Over the last two decades, there has been increasing evidence that AHSCT is a highly effective therapeutic strategy for treatment-resistant inflammatory types of MS, especially RRMS. Concerns about the safety of AHSCT in MS, usually a nonlife-threatening disease, have previously limited its use. However, AHSCT can now be delivered safely with major long-term benefits because of increasing transplant centre experience, judicious patient selection and good supportive care.
SUMMARY: MS is currently the fastest growing indication for AHSCT in Europe. Supportive care before, during and after the transplant period is key to its successful delivery of AHSCT.
Background: In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) cares for millions of Medicaid-eligible older adults who are often homebound and socially isolated. Advance care planning (ACP) can be challenging for this population, and IHSS programs may play an important role.
Objective: To explore the feasibility of an IHSS ACP program for frail older adults.
Design: Semistructured focus groups.
Setting/Subjects: ifty IHSS stakeholders (20 administrators, 9 case managers, 13 in-home caregivers, and 8 clients) participated in 10 focus groups in San Francisco.
Measurements: Qualitative thematic content analysis by two independent coders.
Results: Four main themes emerged: (1) Unmet needs: patients' wishes unknown during a medical crisis, lack of education/training for clients and staff; (2) Barriers: conflict of interest and potential medical overreach of IHSS caregivers, lack of billing avenues, time limitations, and cultural, literacy, and language barriers; (3) Facilitators: leveraging established workflows, available technology, and training programs; and (4) Implementation: use a tailored, optional approach based on clients' readiness, focus on case managers not caregivers to prevent conflict of interest; use established intake, follow-up, and training procedures; consider cultural and literacy-appropriate messaging; and standardize easy-to-use procedures, simple scripts, and educational guides, within established workflow to support case managers.
Conclusions: An IHSS ACP program is important and feasible for Medicaid-eligible, frail older adults. Implementation suggestions for success by IHSS stakeholders include focusing on case managers rather than in-home caregivers to prevent conflict of interest; tailoring programs to clients' readiness, literacy, and language; creating educational programs for IHSS staff, clients, and community; and standardizing easy-to-use guides and procedures into IHSS workflows.
Aims: Families were interviewed as a quality improvement assessment for palliative and supportive care services for children.
Methods: This exploratory qualitative study of family members of children with cancer was conducted at an academic hospital in central South Africa and a grounded theory approach was used. Face-to-face interviews using a semi-structured interview guide were conducted with 16 family members of 16 children.
Findings: Parents felt supported by the healthcare professionals who were caring for their child, but several shortcomings were identified. These included erratic psychosocial support, minimal financial support and poor parental access to basic needs and food provision, preventable errors in procedures and a lack of support available for siblings. It is also worth noting that healthcare professionals did not always seem sufficiently equipped to attend to palliative care patients.
Conclusion: Strategies to improve supportive and palliative care are needed for children with cancer and their families in a hospital setting. The interviews identified a number of themes and current shortcomings that should be considered to improve services.
Kidney supportive care (KSC) is a patient-centered model of multidisciplinary care designed for patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). Our goal was to characterize the types, frequencies, and costs of services accessed by patients enrolled in a KSC program. We analyzed health care utilization data prospectively collected from 102 patients who enrolled in the KSC program during the first 52 weeks of its existence. The data comprised program appointments, emergency department presentations, ambulance service use, outpatient visits, inpatient episodes, and dialysis treatments made within the Brisbane area of Metro North. Costs of resource use were estimated using Queensland Health funding principles and guidelines. Analyses included descriptive statistics, correlations, and multivariate regressions. During the median program participation of 22 weeks, patients had 3975 contacts with health care, with the total value of services amounting to nearly A$3 million. Dialysis treatments accounted for 70% of visits and 49% of costs. Patients receiving dialysis had higher utilization of outpatient services and associated cost, compared to patients who were not dialyzed. The presence of diabetes and the choice of conservative pathway were both predictors of higher frequency and cost of services. Longer program participation was associated with lower weekly utilization and cost. The program attracted patients representing various characteristics, pathways, needs, and outcomes. Exploring these patterns will enable better understanding of the patient population and improved service planning, in KSC and similar programs that aim to comprehensively address the needs of patients with advanced CKD and ESKD.
Specialist Palliative Care aims to effectively support the quality of life of patients and those close to them through progressive, life-limiting disease. Quality of life, an individual concept, requires a personalized approach to support and maintain it. Primarily achieved through the management of symptoms, both physical and psychological, alongside social and spiritual support, this approach is of the utmost importance to patients with advanced malignancy. Several randomized, controlled trials suggest earlier provision of specialist palliative care may increase quality of life, improve symptoms and facilitate considered end of life care planning. This appears beneficial; however, evidence is mixed about the effectiveness of early specialist palliative care and its potential benefits. Results, therefore, should be interpreted with caution. In reviewing the literature, it is clear that implementing early specialist palliative care is fraught with obstacles and requires increased resources and funding. Until the benefits and cost implications for such provision are better understood, it will not be accessible to all that may have potential to benefit.
OBJECTIVE: To provide insight into the prescribing practices of three independent nurse prescribers (INPs)/clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) working in a supportive and palliative care team (SPCT) in a district general hospital and a specialist tertiary cancer centre in the UK.
METHODS: A prospective review of all consultations and the prescribing activity arising from the consultations (and reasons for non-prescribing following a consultation) of 3 INPs/CNSs between 1 August 2018 and 31 October 2018.
RESULTS: Four hundred ninety-three consultations were undertaken on 186 individual patients. Two hundred forty-seven consultations representing 50% resulted in changes to a prescription, and 123 of those consultations representing 50% of prescriptions written resulted in the prescribing of an opioid for moderate-to-severe pain.
CONCLUSIONS: This service evaluation demonstrates the potential for INPs in SPCTs to provide comprehensive symptom control while enabling CNSs to practice with a greater degree of autonomy leading to enhanced job satisfaction. On the basis of our experience, we would encourage all palliative care CNSs to undergo training to become INPs (if available).
BACKGROUND: Medical robots are increasingly used for a variety of applications in healthcare. Robots have mainly been used to support surgical procedures, and for a variety of assistive uses in dementia and elderly care. To date, there has been limited debate about the potential opportunities and risks of robotics in other areas of palliative, supportive and end-of-life care.
AIM: The objective of this article is to examine the possible future impact of medical robotics on palliative, supportive care and end-of-life care. Specifically, we will discuss the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of this technology.
METHODS: A SWOT analysis to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of robotic technology in palliative and supportive care.
RESULTS: The opportunities of robotics in palliative, supportive and end-of-life care include a number of assistive, therapeutic, social and educational uses. However, there are a number of technical, societal, economic and ethical factors which need to be considered to ensure meaningful use of this technology in palliative care.
CONCLUSION: Robotics could have a number of potential applications in palliative, supportive and end-of-life care. Future work should evaluate the health-related, economic, societal and ethical implications of using this technology. There is a need for collaborative research to establish use-cases and inform policy, to ensure the appropriate use (or non-use) of robots for people with serious illness.
Head and neck cancer affects vital functions of speech, swallowing, breathing, and appearance. Overall survival remains poor and symptom burden is high for both patients with incurable disease at the end of life and for long-term survivors. Early and concurrent palliative care helps guide treatment decision making and support quality of life during and after treatment. Both narrative competence and directive counsel can affect the concordance of patient goals and tolerance of treatment and outcomes.
Background: Palliative care (PC) improves the quality of life of patients with advanced cancer. Our aim was to describe PC referral among patients with advanced cancer, and associated outcomes in an academic medical centre.
Methods: We reviewed the medical records of 536 inpatients with cancer who had died in 2010. Our retrospective study compared patients who accessed PC services with those who did not. Statistical analysis was conducted using non-parametric tests due to non-normal distribution. We also conducted a multivariate analysis using a logistic regression model including age, gender, type of cancer and metastatic status.
Results: Out of 536 patients, 239 (45%) had PC referral. The most common cancer types were respiratory (22%) and gastrointestinal (19%). Patients with breast cancer (OR 23.76; CI 6.12 to 92.18) and gynaecological cancer (OR 7.64; CI 2.61 to 22.35) had greater PC access than patients with respiratory or haematological cancer. Patients referred to PC had significantly less chemotherapy in the last 2 weeks of life than non-referred patients, with 22 patients (9%) vs 59 (19%; p<0.001). PC-referred patients had significantly fewer admissions to intensive care units in the last month of life than non-referred patients, with 14 (6%) vs 58 (20%; p<0.001).
Conclusions: There was a large variation in access to PC according to the type of cancer. There is a need to improve collaboration between the PC service and the respiratory, cancer and haematology specialists. Further research will be required to determine the modality and the impact of this collaboration.
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.
OBJECTIVE: The positive impact of early palliative care interventions in advanced cancer patients has so far been largely evaluated in randomised controlled trials. This study aimed at providing information on the value of early palliative/supportive care, integrated with standard oncologic care, in a real-life setting.
METHODS: This was a retrospective observational study of 292 advanced cancer patients consecutively admitted at Carpi Hospital in Modena, Italy, between 2014 and 2017. For the purpose of this analysis, patients were classified into two groups (early and delayed palliative/supportive care patients), and analysed for different clinical indicators. Early and delayed palliative/supportive care were classified according to the time elapsed from advanced cancer diagnosis until palliative/supportive care start.
RESULTS: A total of 200 patients (68%), with at least three visits, were included in the analyses. The frequency of chemotherapy use in the last 60 days of life was 3.4% and 24.6% in the early and delayed groups, respectively (adjusted OR=0.1; 95% CI 0.0 to 0.4; p=0.002). The estimated survival probability at 1 year was 74.5% (95% CI 65.0% to 85.4%) and 45.5% (95% CI 37.6% to 55.0%), in the early and delayed groups, respectively. Performance status, pain and all the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale items, assessed at baseline and at 1 to 12 weeks after the intervention, showed significant improvement over time. However, no between-group differences were found with regard to symptom outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS: An earlier palliative/supportive care intervention was associated with reduced aggressiveness of therapy, in patients receiving community oncology care. Symptom burden was improved by early palliative/supportive care, independently of the timing of patient referral.
PURPOSE: To describe the practices and opinions of specialized palliative care (SPC) physicians regarding early palliative care for patients with cancer, determine characteristics associated with receiving early referrals; and solicit opinions regarding renaming the specialty "supportive care."
METHODS: The survey was distributed by mail and e-mail to physicians who had previously self-identified as providing palliative care. SPC physicians were defined as receiving palliative care referrals from other physicians and not providing palliative care only for their own patients.
RESULTS: The response rate was 71% (531/746), of whom 257 (48.4%) practiced SPC. Of these SPC physicians, 84% provided mainly cancer care; >90% supported early palliative care referral in oncology and had referral criteria facilitating this, but only 20% received early referrals (>6-month prognosis). There was ambivalence regarding caring for patients with full resuscitation status and responsibility for managing cancer treatment-related complications. SPC physicians receiving early referrals were more likely to be female (p=0.02) and have a postgraduate degree (p=0.02), and less likely to provide mainly cancer care (p=0.03) and to agree that patients should stop chemotherapy before referral (p=0.009). Although 60% agreed that patients perceive the term "palliative care" negatively and 39% believed a name change to supportive care would encourage early referral, only 21% supported renaming the specialty.
CONCLUSIONS: Although most SPC physicians supported early palliative care in oncology, the timing of referrals was often late, and was associated with characteristics of SPC physicians. Few SPC physicians supported renaming palliative care.
Heart failure remains an ultimately fatal condition that causes significant symptoms as it progresses. The involvement by palliative services in this patient group has been suboptimal despite many years of guidance from international cardiac societies who recommend a palliative focus for these patients. At Hutt hospital, we have implemented a cardiology supportive care clinic in an attempt to improve the care of our advanced heart failure patients. Our initial experience is that the clinic has resulted in improvements in communication with patients and their families. Management plans and goals of care have been clearly documented, and there has been clarification of roles between the key stakeholders who manage end-stage heart failure patients. A formal integrated palliative approach has been helpful for our end-stage heart failure patients and there is potential for this concept to be beneficial for other end-stage medical conditions.
Background: Early specialized palliative care improves quality of life of patients with advanced cancer, and guidelines encourage its integration into standard oncology care. However, many patients fail to obtain timely palliative/supportive care evaluations, particularly in limited-resource settings. We aimed to determine the proportion of patients with advanced cancer who received an assessment of symptoms and were referred to supportive and palliative care services during the first year after diagnosis in a Mexican hospital.
Methods: Individuals with newly diagnosed advanced solid tumors and 1 year of follow-up at the oncology clinics in the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Medicas y Nutricion Salvador Zubiran in Mexico City from October 2015 to April 2016 were included in this retrospective study.
Results: Seventy-seven patients were included. Forty-two (54.5%) were referred to the various supportive care services during the first year after diagnosis, and 23 (29.8%) were referred to the palliative care clinic. The most commonly assessed symptoms by oncologists were pain (77.9%), anorexia (74.0%), fatigue (68.8%), and nausea (55.8%), while depression/anxiety were evaluated in 10 (12.9%) patients. The oncologist offered to clarify treatment goals in 39 (50.6%) cases and evaluated the understanding of diagnosis/illness and prognosis in 22 (28.5%).
Conclusion: Palliative and supportive care services were widely underutilized, which may be related to a lack of standardized symptom assessments and poor end-of-life communication. Novel strategies are needed to improve the implementation of tools for systematic symptom assessment and to optimize the integration of supportive care interventions into oncology care in developing countries.
BACKGROUND: The use of cannabis by cancer patients has become increasingly common. With expanding access to medical cannabis, unsanctioned cannabis use is likely to increase. Despite this, the extent to which patients seeking specialized palliative or supportive care for cancer-related symptoms are actively using cannabis has not been well established.
OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine the extent to which patients seeking specialized symptom management were using cannabis and to compare the severity of cancer-related symptoms between users and nonusers.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective review of objectively measured tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and subjectively reported cannabis use, its demographic and clinical correlates, and patient-reported symptoms in 816 cancer patients in active treatment referred to a supportive/palliative care outpatient clinic for specialized symptom management between January 2014 and May 2017.
RESULTS: Nearly one-fifth (19.12%) tested positive for THC on urine drug testing. Users were younger, more likely to be men, single, and to not have a history of cigarette smoking. Users also were likely to be more recently diagnosed and to have received radiotherapy. Certain moderate-to-severe symptoms, such as lack of appetite, shortness of breath, tiredness, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and depression, were associated with use after accounting for sociodemographic and clinical differences between cannabis users and nonusers.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest patients seeking specialized symptom management are self-treating with cannabis, despite the lack of high-quality evidence for its use in palliative care. Unsanctioned use is likely to increase in cancer patients. Accurate information is urgently needed to help manage patient expectations for its use and increase understanding of risks and benefits.
PURPOSE: Traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) use in children with cancer is well established among high-income, upper middle-income, low-middle-income, and low-income countries (HIC, UMIC, LMIC, LIC, respectively). In HIC, a developing body of evidence exists for several T&CM therapies; however, evidence in other income settings is less well described despite a significantly higher use when compared to reports from HIC. The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the evidence for T&CM for a variety of supportive care indications among children with cancer.
METHODS: We performed a systematic review following the PRISMA guidelines of randomized, controlled clinical trials from inception through September 2016. Our eligibility criteria were limited to T&CM studies performed in children and adolescents undergoing treatment for a pediatric malignancy.
RESULTS: Of 6342 studies identified, 44 met inclusion criteria. Two clinical trials reported on acupuncture, 1 reported on aromatherapy, 9 evaluated massage therapy, and 32 reported on dietary supplements. Twenty-two studies were performed in HIC, 15 in UMIC, and 7 in LMIC. T&CM therapies were most commonly investigated for the prevention or management of mucositis, weight loss, and febrile neutropenia. Encouraging results were reported for select interventions; however, the majority of studies were classified as poor to fair quality.
CONCLUSION: Our search revealed numerous clinical studies investigating the use of T&CM for supportive care purposes in pediatric oncology in HIC, UMIC, and LMIC. Although limited, these results could inform supportive care resource allocation and indicate where T&CM may serve to fill gaps where access to care may be limited.
The Supportive Care Nursing Clinical Protocol (SCNCP) was developed to guide holistic nursing care for seriously ill hospitalized patients. The SCNCP uses national guidelines and evidence-based interventions as its foundation. Seriously ill patients may require palliative care, which is synonymous with supportive care. Acute care nurses may not be proficient in providing holistic supportive care for patients with life-limiting illness. At a 670-bed public acute care hospital, palliative care consultation requires a physician order and palliation may arrive late in an illness. Independent nursing interventions can contribute to the alleviation of suffering. Evidence-based interventions used in the SCNCP include using computer applications for breathing exercise (relaxation and mindfulness), topical applications for alleviating thirst, and hand-held fans for dyspnea. The SCNCP is projected for implementation (Spring 2017). The SCNCP will be evaluated for effectiveness after 6 months of implementation. Key indicators for successful implementation include increased nursing knowledge of supportive care and the frequency of protocol implementation as evidenced in the electronic health record. Eventually, the SCNCP will be implemented as the standard for supportive care of the seriously ill for all hospitals in the health system network.