OBJECTIVE: To explore family members' experiences of advance care planning in nursing homes.
DESIGN: Individual interviews. Thematic analysis.
SETTING: Four nursing homes in Sweden.
SUBJECTS: Eighteen family members of deceased nursing home patients.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Family members' experiences of advance care planning in nursing homes.
RESULTS: Family members' experiences of advance care planning in a nursing home context involved five themes: Elephant in the room, comprising end-of-life issues being difficult to talk about; Also silent understanding, e.g. patient's preferences explicitly communicated, but also implicitly conveyed. In some cases family members had a sense of the patient's wishes although preferences had not been communicated openly; Significance of small details, e.g. family members perceive everyday details as symbols of staff commitment; Invisible physician, supporting nurse, e.g. nurse being a gatekeeper, providing a first line assessment in the physician's absence; and Feeling of guilt, e.g. family members wish to participate in decisions regarding direction of care and treatment limits, and need guidance in the decisions.
CONCLUSION: Our study stresses the significance of staff involving the patient and family members in the advance care planning process in nursing homes, thereby adapting the care in line with patient's wishes, and for the patient to share these preferences with family members. Education in communication related to the subject may be important to shape advance care planning. Key points Knowledge on advance care planning (ACP) in a nursing home (NH) context from the perspective of family members is limited. Role of the nurse in ACP is seen as central, whereas physician involvement is often perceived to be lacking. Significance of small details, perceive to symbolize staff competence and respect for patient autonomy. To limit family members' feeling of guilt, communicating end-of-life issues is important in order to align ACP with patient preferences.
Palliative care is provided at a certain timepoint, both in a person's life and in a societal context. What is considered to be a good death can therefore vary over time depending on prevailing social values and norms, and the person's own view and interpretation of life. This means that there are many interpretations of what a good death can actually mean for an individual. On a more general level, research in palliative care shows that individuals have basic common needs, for example physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being. Therefore, in today's pluralistic Western society, it becomes important that palliative care is person centred to enable individuals to receive, as far as can be achieved, care that promotes as good a life as possible based on the person's own needs and preferences, and in accordance with evidence and current laws. For many years a research group, consisting nurse researchers together with nurses working in palliative care, has developed a model for person-centred palliative care, the 6S-model. The model's central concept is Self-image, where the starting point is the patient as a person and their own experience of the situation. The other concepts: Self-determination, Symptom relief, Social relationships, Synthesis and Strategies are all related to the patient's self-image, and often to each other. The model's development, value base and starting assumptions are reported here, as are examples of how the model is applied in palliative care in Sweden. The model has been, and still is, constantly evolving in a collaboration between researchers and clinically active nurses, and in recent years also with patients and close relatives.
CONTEXT: Although the COVID-19 pandemic might affect important clinical routines, few studies have focused on the maintenance of good quality in end-of-life care.
OBJECTIVES: The objective was to examine whether adherence to clinical routines for good end-of-life care differed for deaths due to COVID-19 compared to a reference cohort from 2019, and whether they differed between nursing homes and hospitals.
METHODS: Data about five items reflecting clinical routines for persons who died an expected death from COVID-19 during the first three months of the pandemic (March-May 2020) were collected from the Swedish Register of Palliative Care. The items were compared between the COVID-19 group and the reference cohort, and between the nursing home and hospital COVID-19 deaths.
RESULTS: 1316 expected deaths were identified in nursing homes and 685 in hospitals. Four of the five items differed for total COVID-19 group compared to the reference cohort: fewer were examined by a physician during the last days before death, pain and oral health were less likely to be assessed, and fewer had had a specialised palliative care team consultation (p < .0001, respectively). Assessment of symptoms other than pain did not differ significantly. The five items differed between the nursing homes and hospitals in the COVID-19 group, most notably regarding the proportion of persons examined by a physician during the last days (nursing homes - 18%, hospitals - 100%).
CONCLUSION: This national register study shows that several clinical routines for end-of-life care did not meet the usual standards during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden. Higher preparedness for and monitoring of end-of-life care quality should be integrated into future pandemic plans.
Background: Catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs) constitute a major complication associated with the use of central venous lines (CVL). The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence proportion and risk factors of CRSBI in palliative care patients with CVL receiving home parenteral nutrition (HPN).
Methods: Medical records from patients admitted to a medical home care unit in stockholm, Sweden, during 2017 were reviewed (n=1022) and 454 palliative care patients with a CVL were identified. Data on CRBSI cases, HPN exposure time, type of parenteral nutrition (PN), age, diagnosis and type of CVL were collected.
Results: Twenty-nine of 143 patients receiving HPN through a CVL were diagnosed with a CRBSI (20%). Nine of 311 patients with CVL without exposure for HPN developed CRBSI (3%). The risk of a CRBSI was significantly higher in patients receiving HPN compared with those not receiving HPN, OR 8.5 (95% CI 4.0 to 18.7). For those receiving HPN six to seven times a week the risk was even higher, OR 13 (95% CI 5.1 to 30.3). The highest incidence proportion of CRBSI (31%) was found in a home care team where patients had been trained to disconnect themselves from the PN drip. Sex, cancer versus non-cancer, type of CVL or protein content in the PN, did not differ between patients that developed CRBSI versus those that did not develop the outcome.
Conclusion: HPN entails a high risk of CRBSI. A high frequency of PN and incautious handling of the disconnection of the drip, seem to be the most important risk factors.
Background: The outcome and tolerability of palliative second line chemotherapy for advanced pancreatic cancer (APC) in real life patients are largely unknown. Prognostic parameters for risk stratification and treatment guidance are lacking.
Materials and Methods: A population based multicenter retrospective cohort study was conducted, covering all APC patients who received palliative second-line chemotherapy between 2011 and 2018 at any cancer center in the South East Region of Sweden. Primary outcome was overall survival after second-line therapy (OS2). Time to treatment failure after second-line therapy (TTF2), hematological toxicity, and unplanned hospitalizations were key secondary outcomes. A number of baseline potentially prognostic parameters were assessed.
Results: A total of 509 patients received first-line palliative chemotherapy, and of these 167 (33%) received at least one dose of second-line therapy and formed the final study population. Median OS2 was 5.2 months (95% CI = 4.7–5.7) and median TTF2 was 1.9 months (1.5–2.2). OS2 and TTF2 were similar regardless regimen, including comparison of the two most common regimens (fluoropyrimidine monotherapy vs. fluoropyrimidine/oxaliplatin doublet). Multivariate analysis revealed that normal plasma albumin (=35) and serum CA-19-9 above median (>1,550) were independent predictors for OS2 (HR = 0.21, p < 0.001 and HR = 2.03, p = 0.009) and TTF2 (HR = 0.22, p < 0.001 and HR = 2.03, p = 0.01), while ECOG performance status >1 was predictive for TTF2 (HR = 2.05, p = 0.032). Grade 3–4 hematological toxicity was registered in 17 patients (10%). 50 (30%) had at least one event of hospitalization.
Conclusion: The real world outcome of second line palliative chemotherapy for refractory APC remains dismal. Baseline plasma albumin, serum CA-19-9, and performance status emerge as key prognostic factors, and should be further studied as tools for individualized treatment decisions.
BACKGROUND: Preparation for an impending death through EOL (end-of-life) discussions and human presence when a person is dying is important for both patients and families.
OBJECTIVE: The aim was to study whether EOL discussions were offered and to what degree patients were alone at time of death when dying from Covid-19, comparing deaths in nursing homes and hospitals.
DESIGN: The national Swedish Register of Palliative Care (SRPC) was used. All expected deaths from Covid-19 in nursing homes and hospitals were compared with, and contrasted to, deaths in a reference population (deaths in 2019).
SETTING AND SUBJECTS: A total of 1346 expected Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes (n=908) and hospitals (n=438) were analyzed.
RESULTS: Those who died were of a more advanced age in nursing homes (mean 86.4 years) and of a lower age in hospitals (mean 80.7 years) (p<0.0001). Fewer EOL discussions with patients were held compared with deaths in 2019 (74% vs. 79%, p<0.001) and dying with someone present was much more uncommon (59% vs. 83%, p<0.0001). In comparisons between nursing homes and hospital deaths, more patients dying in nursing homes were women (56% vs. 37%, p<0.0001) and significantly fewer had a retained ability to express their will during the last week of life (54% vs. 89%, p<0.0001). Relatives were present at time of death in only 13% and 24% of the cases in nursing homes and hospitals, respectively (p<0.001). The corresponding figures for staff were 52% and 38% (p<0.0001).
CONCLUSION: Dying from Covid-19 negatively affects the possibility of holding an EOL discussion and the chances of dying with someone present. This has considerable social and existential consequences for both patients and families.
Background: Increasing numbers of people dying from COVID-19 are reported, but data are lacking on the way they die.
Objective: To study symptoms and symptom relief during the last week of life, comparing nursing homes with hospitals.
Design: The Swedish Register of Palliative Care with national coverage was used. Breakthrough symptoms were registered as Yes/No. Symptom relief was recorded on a 3-grade scale as complete—partial—no relief.
All deaths in COVID-19 were contrasted to deaths in a reference population (deaths 2019). Deaths at nursing homes were compared with deaths in hospitals.
Setting and Subjects: All deaths in hospitals or nursing homes (n = 490) were analyzed. Deaths in other settings (specialized palliative care wards [n = 11], in palliative home care [n = 2], or in their own homes [n = 8]) were excluded (n = 21). Only patients with expected deaths (n = 390) were entered in the final analysis.
Results: Breathlessness as a breakthrough symptom was more common in COVID-19 patients than in the 2019 reference population (p < 0.001) and relief of breathlessness, as well as anxiety, delirium, and death rattles was less successful in COVID-19 patients (p < 0.05 to p < 0.01 in different comparisons). Patients were older in nursing homes than in hospitals (86.6 years vs. 80.9 years, p < 0.001) and more often female (48% vs. 34%, p < 0.001). Breakthrough of breathlessness was much more frequently reported in hospital settings than in nursing homes, 73% versus 35% (p < 0.0001), and complete relief was more rarely possible in hospitals, 20% versus 42% (p < 0.01). The proportion of partial relief+complete relief was comparable, 92% versus 95% (ns). Also, anxiety and pain were more often completely relieved in nursing homes (p < 0.01 in both comparisons).
Conclusion: The lower symptom prevalence in nursing homes may be explained by elderly frail residents dying already in the first phase of the COVID-19 disease, before acute respiratory distress syndrome develops.
Background: To characterize patients dying in a community hospital with or without attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and to describe patient involvement in, documentation of, and compliance with decisions on resuscitation (Do-not-attempt-to-resuscitate orders; DNAR).
Methods: ll patients who died in Kalmar County Hospital during January 1, 2016 until December 31, 2016 were included. All information from the patients’ electronic chart was analysed.
Results: Of 660 patients (mean age 77.7 ± 12.1 years; range 21–101; median 79; 321 (48.6%) female), 30 (4.5%) were pronounced dead in the emergency department after out-of-hospital CPR. Of the remaining 630 patients a DNAR order had been documented in 558 patients (88.6%). Seventy had no DNAR order and 2 an explicit order to do CPR. In 43 of these 70 patients CPR was unsuccessfully attempted while the remaining 27 patients died without attempting CPR. In 2 of 558 (0.36%) patients CPR was attempted despite a DNAR order in place. In 412 patients (73.8%) the DNAR order had not been discussed with neither patient nor family/friends. Moreover, in 75 cases (13.4%) neither patient nor family/friends were even informed about the decision on code status.
Conclusions: In general, a large percentage of patients in our study had a DNAR order in place (88.6%). However, 27 patients (4.3%) died without CPR attempt or DNAR order. DNAR orders had not been discussed with the patient/surrogate in almost three fourths of the patients. Further work has to be done to elucidate the barriers to discussions of CPR decisions with the patient.
BACKGROUND: In cancer care, do not resuscitate (DNR) orders are common in the terminal phase of the illness, which implies that the responsible physician in advance decides that in case of a cardiac arrest neither basic nor advanced Coronary Pulmonary Rescue should be performed. Swedish regulations prescribe that DNR decisions should be made by the responsible physician, preferably in co-operation with members of the team. If possible, the patient should consent, and significant others should be informed of the decision. Previous studies have shown that physicians and nurses can experience ethical dilemmas in relation to DNR decisions, but knowledge about what ethical reasoning they perform is lacking. Therefore, the aim was to describe and explore what ethical reasoning physicians and nurses apply in relation to DNR-decisions in oncology and hematology care.
METHODS: A qualitative, descriptive and explorative design was used, based on 287 free-text comments in a study-specific questionnaire, answered by 216 physicians and nurses working in 16 oncology and hematology wards in Sweden. Comments were given by 89 participants.
RESULTS: The participants applied a situation-based ethical reasoning in relation to DNR-decisions. The reasons given for this were both deontological and utilitarian in kind. Also, expressions of care ethics were found in the material. Universal rules or guidelines were seen as problematic. Concerning the importance of the subject, nurses to a higher extent underlined the importance of discussing DNR-situations, while physicians described DNR-decisions as over-investigated and not such a big issue in their daily work.
CONCLUSION: The study revealed that DNR-decisions in oncology and hematology care gave rise to ethical considerations. Important ethical values described by the participants were to avoid doing harm and to secure a peaceful and "natural" death with dignity for their dying patients. A preference for the expression "allow for natural death" instead of the traditional term "do not resuscitate" was found in the material.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To describe nurses' experiences of palliative care for older people with advanced dementia living in residential aged care units.
BACKGROUND: Dementia is a global health problem and the number of older people with dementia who need palliative care is increasing. Previous research has revealed that care for older people with dementia in the final stage of life is usually complex. However, little is known about how nurses experience palliative care for older people with advanced dementia living in residential aged care units.
METHOD: Nine individual, semi-structured face-to-face interviews with nurses working in residential aged care units for older people with advanced dementia in palliative care in western Sweden were analysed using qualitative inductive content analysis. The COREQ checklist was followed.
RESULTS: The nurses considered that palliative care for older people with advanced dementia is a complex and challenging form of care. In particular, they identified three challenges that must be met: developing specialised knowledge and skills, developing teamwork as a working method, and creating a caring relationship.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of our analysis indicate that if nurses are aware of and understand that the challenges are essential for 'joining all the pieces together', the palliative care for older people with advanced dementia may become a positive experience for nurses and may increase their sense of satisfaction and security in their professional role.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: For the palliative care to be successful the nurses need to 'join all the pieces together', i.e. succeed in developing specialised knowledge and skills, developing teamwork as a working method, and creating a caring relationship to establish a person-centred care with the older person with advanced dementia and with his or her relatives.
Research results suggest that illness can undermine patients' dignity and that dignity can be understood as an experience formed in communion with others. The aim of this study was, therefore, to illuminate the meanings of lived experiences of dignity as an intersubjective phenomenon from the perspective of dyads in palliative care. The authors analyzed transcripts from interviews with nine dyads using a phenomenological-hermeneutical method. Within the contexts of the dyadic relationship and the dyadic-health care professional relationship, the authors' interpretation revealed two meanings based on the participants' lived experiences: "Being available," related to responding and being responded to in terms of answerability and we-ness, and "Upholding continuity," linked to feeling attached through the maintenance of emotional bonds and being connected through upholding valued activities and qualities in daily living. The authors further reflected on the meanings in relation to philosophically grounded concepts such as presence, objectification, dependence, and dyadic body.
BACKGROUND/AIM: Previous studies have shown discrepancies between patient's desired and actual death place. As planning of family support and involvement of palliative home care teams seem to improve the chance to meet patients preferences, geographical availability of specialized palliative home care could influence place of death.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Data of patients diagnosed and deceased between January 2011 until December 2014 with lung, brain, colorectal, breast and prostate cancer was collected from Swedish national registers and multiple regression analyses were performed.
RESULTS: Patients with lung, brain, colorectal, and prostate cancer who resided in rural municipalities had a higher likelihood of dying at home than dying in hospital settings, compared to those who lived in urban areas.
CONCLUSION: Patients in Sweden, with the exception of breast cancer patients, have a higher likelihood of home death than inpatient hospital death when residing in rural areas compared to when residing in urban areas.
BACKGROUND: Ideas of patient involvement are related to notions of self-determination and autonomy, which are not always in alignment with complex interactions and communication in clinical practice.
AIM: To illuminate and discuss patient involvement in routine clinical care situations in nursing practice from an ethical perspective.
METHOD: A case study based on an anthropological field study among patients with advanced cancer in Denmark.
ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS: Followed the principles of the Helsinki Declaration.
FINDINGS: Two cases illustrated situations where nurses refused patient involvement in their own case.
DISCUSSION: Focus on two ethical issues, namely 'including patients' experiences in palliative nursing care' and 'relational distribution of power and knowledge', inspired primarily by Hannah Arendt's concept of thoughtlessness and a Foucauldian perspective on the medical clinic and power. The article discusses how patients' palliative care needs and preferences, knowledge and statements become part of the less significant background of nursing practice, when nurses have a predefined agenda for acting with and involvement of patients. Both structurally conditioned 'thoughtlessness' of the nurses and distribution of power and knowledge between patients and nurses condition nurses to set the agenda and assess when and at what level it is relevant to take up patients' invitations to involve them in their own case.
CONCLUSION: The medical and institutional logic of the healthcare service sets the framework for the exchange between professional and patient, which has an embedded risk that 'thoughtlessness' appears among nurses. The consequences of neglecting the spontaneous nature of human action and refusing the invitations of the patients to be involved in their life situation call for ethical and practical reflection among nurses. The conditions for interaction with humans as unpredictable and variable challenge nurses' ways of being ethically attentive to ensure that patients receive good palliative care, despite the structurally conditioned logic of healthcare.
Background: In the last years of life, burden of disease and disability and need of health- and social care often increase. Social, functional and psychological factors may be important in regard to social- and health care utilization. This study aims to describe use of health- and social care during the last year of life among persons living in ordinary housing or in assisted living facilities.
Methods: A retrospective study examining health- and social care utilization during their last year of life, using a subsample from the Swedish twin registries individually linked to several Swedish national quality registries (NQR). Persons that died during 2008–2009 and 2011–2012 (n = 1518) were selected.
Results: Mean age at death was 85.9 ± 7.3 (range 65.1–109.0). Among the 1518 participants (women n = 888, 58.5%), of which 741 (49%) were living in assisted living facilities and 1061 (69.9%) had at least one hospitalization during last year of life. The most common causes of death were cardiovascular disease (43.8%) and tumors (15.3%). A multivariable logistic regression revealed that living in ordinary housing, younger age and higher numbers of NQR’s increased the likelihood of hospitalization.
Conclusions: Persons in their last year of life consumed high amount of health- and social care although 12% did not receive any home care. Married persons received less home care than never married. Persons living in ordinary housing had higher numbers of hospitalizations compared to participants in assisted living facilities. Older persons and persons registered in fewer NQR’s were less hospitalized.
Background: Oesophageal and gastric cancer are highly lethal malignancies with a 5-year survival rate of 15–29%. More knowledge is needed about the quality of end-of-life care in order to understand the burden of the illness and the ability of the current health care system to deliver timely and appropriate end-of-life care. The aim of this study was to describe the impact of initial treatment strategy and survival time on the quality of end-of-life care among patients with oesophageal and gastric cancer.
Methods: This register-based cohort study included patients who died from oesophageal and gastric cancer in Sweden during 2014–2016. Through linking data from the National Register for Esophageal and Gastric Cancer, the National Cause of Death Register, and the Swedish Register of Palliative Care, 2156 individuals were included. Associations between initial treatment strategy and survival time and end-of-life care quality indicators were investigated. Adjusted risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals were calculated using modified Poisson regression.
Results : Patients with a survival of =3 months and 4–7 months had higher RRs for hospital death compared to patients with a survival =17 months. Patients with a survival of =3 months also had a lower RR for end-of-life information and bereavement support compared to patients with a survival =17 months, while the risks of pain assessment and oral assessment were not associated with survival time. Compared to patients with curative treatment, patients with no tumour-directed treatment had a lower RR for pain assessment. No significant differences were shown between the treatment groups regarding hospital death, end-of-life information, oral health assessment, and bereavement support.
Conclusions : Short survival time is associated with several indicators of low quality end-of-life care among patients with oesophageal and gastric cancer, suggesting that a proactive palliative care approach is imperative to ensure quality end-of-life care.
Studio DöBra is a community-based initiative in which children (9 y/o) and older adults (mostly 80+) engaged with topics related to dying, death and loss through shared arts activities (e.g. collage, sculpture, games). In an ageing society, Sweden's end-of-life (EoL) care is increasingly professionalised and specialised, but there is little community involvement. One goal of Studio DöBra was therefore to support community engagement with EoL-related topics. Another goal was to create opportunities for interaction between children and older adults as there are few intergenerational meeting places. Two iterations of Studio DöBra were developed (2016, 2018) in different Swedish cities, utilising a community-based participatory research approach. Project groups comprised first author MK and representatives of community organisations such as meeting places for older adults, after-school centres and artistic organisations. Each iteration engaged eight children and eight older adults in a series of five workshops. This article investigates how children and older adults motivate their participation, their experiences of participating and ways in which they were affected by participation. We also investigate how parents reflect on their child's participation in Studio DöBra. Older adults, children and their parents were interviewed after each Studio DöBra. An inductive qualitative process guided by interpretive description was used to analyse the transcripts. Findings indicate that participants acted as individuals with agency in connecting across generations and in creating spaces for engaging with EoL-topics, not only in Studio DöBra but also in their social networks. Participants reflected on a changing sense of community through new intergenerational connections and social activities, and expressed a desire to maintain these. However, participants indicated sustainability challenges related to lacking agency in maintaining these spaces and sense of intergenerational community, as they rely on support from community organisations.
BACKGROUND: The significance of metaphors for the experience of cancer has been the topic of extensive previous research, with "Battle" and "Journey" metaphors standing out as key. Adaptation to the patient's use of metaphor is generally believed to be an important aspect of person-centered care, especially in palliative care. The aim of this study was to investigate the use of metaphors in blogs written in Swedish by people living with advanced cancer and explore possible patterns associated with individuals, age and gender.
METHODS: The study is based on a dataset totaling 2,602,479 words produced some time during the period 2007-2016 by 27 individuals diagnosed with advanced cancer. Both qualitative and quantitative procedures were used, and the findings are represented as raw frequencies as well as normalized frequencies per 10,000 words. Our general approach was exploratory and descriptive. The Mann-Whitney U test was used to analyze statistical significance.
RESULTS: Our results confirm the strong foothold of "Journey" and "Battle" metaphors. "Imprisonment" and "Burden" metaphors were also used by the majority of the individuals. The propensity to use metaphors when describing the cancer experience was found to differ extensively across the individuals. However, individuals were not found to opt for one conceptualization over the other but tended to draw on several different metaphor domains when conceptualizing their experience. Socio-demographic factors such as age or gender were not found to be strong predictors of metaphor choice in this limited study.
CONCLUSIONS: Using a range of different metaphors allows individuals with advanced cancer to highlight different aspects of their experience. The presence of metaphors associated with "Journey", "Battle", "Imprisonment" and "Burden" across individuals could be explained by the fact that the bloggers are part of a culturally consistent cohort, despite variations in age, sex and cancer form. Awareness of metaphors commonly used by patients can enhance health professionals' capacity to identify metaphorical patterns and develop a common language grounded in the patients' own metaphor use, which is an important requisite for person-centered palliative care.
Background: The McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire - Expanded (MQOL-E) and the Quality of Life in Life-Threatening Illness-Family Carer/Caregiver version (QOLLTI-F) are developed for use with patients facing the end of life and their family carers, respectively. They are also developed for possible use as companion instruments. Contemporary measurement validity theory places emphasis on response processes, i.e. what people feel and think when responding to items. Response processes may be affected when measurement instruments are translated and adapted for use in different cultures. The aim of this study was to translate and examine content validity and response processes during completion of MQOL-E and QOLLTI-F version 2 (v2) among Swedish patients with life-threatening illness and their family carers.
Methods: The study was conducted in two stages (I) translation and adaptation (II) examination of content validity and response processes using cognitive interviews with 15 patients and 9 family carers. Participants were recruited from the hemodialysis unit, heart clinic, lung clinic and specialized palliative care of a Swedish county hospital. Patients had life-threatening illness such as advanced heart failure, advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, end-stage kidney disease or advanced cancer. Patients were outpatients, inpatients or receiving home care.
Results: Patients and family carers respectively believed that the items of the MQOL-E and QOLLTI-F v2 reflect relevant and important areas of their quality of life. Although some items needed more time for reflection, both instruments were considered easy to understand. Some changes were made to resolve issues of translation. Participants expressed that reflecting on their situation while answering questions was valuable and meaningful to them, and that responding was an opportunity to express feelings.
Conclusions: The results of response processes pertaining to the Swedish translations of both MQOL-E and QOLLTI-F v2 contribute evidence regarding content validity, linguistic equivalence and cultural appropriateness of the translated instruments. In addition, results show that the instruments may support conversations on matters of importance for quality of life between patients and/or family carers and health care professionals. Further research is needed to study the psychometric properties of Swedish translations.
Introduction: Poorer end-of-life (EOL) care for elderly cancer patients has been reported. We assessed the impact of age on 13 indicators for the quality of EOL care as well as adherence to 6 national quality indicators in gynaecological cancer patients.
Methods: Age-dependent differences in 13 palliative care quality indicators were studied in gynaecological cancer patients registered in the population-based Swedish Register of Palliative Care. Association between the patient’s age and each quality indicator was analyzed by logistic regression, adjusted for place of death where appropriate. Adherence to six national quality indicators determined by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare was estimated in all patients.
Results: We included 3940 patients with the following age distribution: 1.6% were 18–39 years of age, 12.3% 40–59 years, 37.2% 60–74 years, 28.9% 75–84 years and 20% were =85 years. Age-dependent differences in implementation rate were present for some of the 13 quality indicators. Compared to elderly cancer patients, younger patients were more likely to be cared for by a specialized palliative care service, more often informed about imminent death as well as assessed for pain. For most national quality indicators, the goal level was not met. Only for the ‘on demand prescription for pain’, the goal level was reached.
Conclusions: EOL care did not meet national quality indicators in this population-based data from Sweden, in particular in the elderly population. Elderly gynaecological cancer patients are at high risk of poorer EOL care without the involvement of specialized palliative care services. Palliative care services need to be implemented across all institutions of EOL care to ensure good and equal care.
Context: Despite being associated with dependence and social stigma, methadone is a potential end-of-life option in complex cancer pain.
Objectives: To explore attitudes and opinions about methadone and its potential role and current use in complex end-of-life pain.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews (n = 30) with physicians in specialized palliative care, transcribed and analyzed with conventional qualitative content analysis.
Results: According to the physicians, patients and relatives expressed unexpectedly few negative attitudes, not affecting methadone’s use as an analgesic. Complex pain in bone-metastatic cancer of the prostate, breast and kidney, as well as pancreatic cancer and sarcomas were recurrent suggestions of appropriate indications.
Most of the informants stated that they applied a mechanism-based treatment and mainly prescribed low-dose methadone as an add-on to an existing opioid therapy to benefit from methadone´s proposed NMDA-receptor inhibiting properties, e.g. in cases with reduced opioid sensitivity. Despite its complex pharmacokinetics with a long half-life, most informants expressed defined strategies to avoid side-effects such as respiratory depression, especially when initiating treatment in the home-care setting.
While many palliative care physicians expressed an overly enthusiastic attitude, others stressed the risks of overconfidence, low precision in use, and overlooked treatment options. Besides the obvious physical pain-relieving effects, they stated that effective pain relief could result in a reduced workload and emotional empowerment, both for physicians and staff.
Conclusion: Methadone, especially in the form of low-dose add-on to other opioids is widely advocated in Swedish specialized palliative care as a practical and safe method with rapid onset in complex pain situations at the end of life.