What components of the physical examination (PE) are valuable when providing comfort-based care for an imminently dying patients? While patient factors must be individualized, this Fast Fact assimilates the sparse published evidence along with anecdotal experience to offer clinical pearls on how to tailor the PE.
Purpose: To assess the accuracy of hospice staff in predicting survival of subjects admitted to hospice, exploring the factors considered most helpful by the hospice staff to accurately predict survival.
Methods: Five physicians and 11 nurses were asked to predict survival at admission of 827 patients. Actual and predicted survival times were divided into = 1 week, 2–3 weeks, 4–8 weeks, and = 2 months and the accuracy of the estimates was calculated. The staff members were each asked to score 17 clinical variables that guided them in predicting survival and we analyzed how these variables impacted the accuracy.
Results: Physicians’ and nurses’ accuracy of survival of the patients was 46% and 40% respectively. Survival was underestimated in 20% and 12% and overestimated in 34% and 48% of subjects. Both physicians and nurses considered metastases, comorbidities, dyspnea, disability, tumor site, neurological symptoms, and confusion very important in predicting patients’ survival with nurses assigning more importance to intestinal symptoms and pain too. All these factors, with the addition of cough and/or bronchial secretions, were associated with physicians’ greater accuracy. In the multivariable models, intestinal symptoms and confusion continued to be associated with greater predictive accuracy. No factors appreciably raised nurses’ accuracy.
Conclusions: Some clinical symptoms rated as relevant by the hospice staff could be important for predicting survival. However, only intestinal symptoms and confusion significantly improved the accuracy of physicians’ predictions, despite the high prevalence of overestimated survival.
La pandémie de Covid-19 est particulièrement sévère chez la personne âgée.
Notre objectif était d’identifier, à partir de la littérature internationale, les symptômes les plus fréquents chez la personne âgée infectée par le virus SARS-CoV-2. Cette revue systématique de la littérature a été conduite à partir de Medline sur la période du 1er décembre 2019 au 13 avril 2020. L’analyse des biais a été réalisée selon une méthode d’évaluation de
la qualité méthodologique des séries de cas et rapports de cas. Sur 260 articles initialement identifiés, seules deux études ont finalement été incluses dans la synthèse qualitative. L’âge moyen était peu élevé, entre 71 et 74 ans en moyenne. Les symptômes de Covid-19 étaient les suivants : fièvre, toux sèche, dyspnée, asthénie, anorexie, oppression thoracique, diarrhées, et dans une moindre mesure myalgies, pharyngite, nausées, vertiges, céphalées, douleurs abdominales et enfin vomissements. Une lymphopénie était retrouvée à la numération
sanguine. En conclusion, cette revue systématique de la littérature internationale révèle un manque de données concernant la sémiologie du Covid-19 chez la personne âgée, notamment chez les très âgés fragiles qui définissent communément la population gériatrique. L’enquête nationale de la Société française de gériatrie et gérontologie permettra
de combler ce scotome sémiologique.
Background: This retrospective cohort study aims to define the clinical findings and outcomes of every patient admitted to a district general hospital in Surrey with COVID-19 in March 2020, providing a snapshot of the first wave of infection in the UK. This study is the first detailed insight into the impact of frailty markers on patient outcomes and provides the infection rate among healthcare workers.
Methods: Data were obtained from medical records. Outcome measures were level of oxygen therapy, discharge and death. Patients were followed up until 21 April 2020.
Results: 108 patients were included. 34 (31%) died in hospital or were discharged for palliative care. 43% of patients aged over 65 died. The commonest comorbidities were hypertension (49; 45%) and diabetes (25; 23%). Patients who died were older (mean difference ±SEM, 13.76±3.12 years; p<0.0001) with a higher NEWS2 score (median 6, IQR 2.5–7.5 vs median 2, IQR 2–6) and worse renal function (median differences: urea 2.7 mmol/L, p<0.01; creatinine 4 µmol/L, p<0.05; eGFR 14 mL/min, p<0.05) on admission compared with survivors. Frailty markers were identified as risk factors for death. Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS) was higher in patients over 65 who died than in survivors (median 5, IQR 4–6 vs 3.5, IQR 2–5; p<0.01). Troponin and creatine kinase levels were higher in patients who died than in those who recovered (p<0.0001). Lymphopenia was common (median 0.8, IQR 0.6–1.2; p<0.005). Every patient with heart failure died (8). 26 (24%) were treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP; median 3 days, IQR 2–7.3) and 9 (8%) were intubated (median 14 days, IQR 7–21). All patients who died after discharge (4; 6%) were care home residents. 276 of 699 hospital staff tested were positive for COVID-19.
Conclusions: This study identifies older patients with frailty as being particularly vulnerable and reinforces government policy to protect this group at all costs.
BACKGROUND: Few studies evaluated whether health care professionals accurately assess several symptoms for patients with cancer in palliative care units. We determined the agreement level for several symptoms related to quality of life (QOL) between patient-reported QOL assessment and health care professional-assessed symptoms based on the Support Team Assessment Schedule (STAS).
METHOD: An observational study was performed with terminally ill patients with cancer hospitalized in the palliative care unit between June 2018 and December 2019. Patients and health care professionals independently assessed 7 symptoms at the time of hospitalization and after 1 week. Patients completed the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL). In examining the proportions of exact agreement, "exact agreement" referred to the pairs of the scores (QLQ-C15-PAL vs STAS) being (1 vs 0), (2 vs 1), (3 vs 2 or 3), or (4 vs 4). The relationships of physical functioning between QLQ-C15-PAL and Palliative Performance Scale (PPS) were examined.
RESULTS: Of 130 patients, approximately 60% had PPS scores from 40 to 60. The highest mean score on QLQ-C15-PAL was for fatigue (63.8). The exact agreement on symptoms between patients and health care professionals ranged from 15.4% (fatigue) to 57.7% (nausea and vomiting). The mean of the transformed QLQ-C15-PAL and proportions of exact agreement were negatively correlated (R2 = 0.949, P < .05). The physical function scores in QLQ-C15-PAL for each PPS group showed no differences.
CONCLUSION: We expect patient-reported outcomes including QLQ-C15-PAL to be added to health care professionals' assessment of serious symptoms such as fatigue in terminally ill patients with cancer.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care services face challenges in adapting and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding how palliative care needs and outcomes have changed during the pandemic compared to before the pandemic is crucial to inform service planning and research initiatives.
AIM: To evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on symptoms, clinical characteristics, and outcomes for patients referred to a hospital-based palliative care service in a district general hospital in London, UK.
DESIGN: A retrospective service evaluation. Data were extracted from the electronic patient records.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: The first 60 inpatients with confirmed COVID-19 infection, referred to the hospital palliative care service between 1 March 2020 and 23 April 2020, and another 60 inpatients, referred to the hospital palliative care service between 11 March 2019 and 23 April 2019, were included from a district general hospital in East London, UK.
RESULTS: Patients with COVID-19 have lower comorbidity scores, poorer performance status, and a shorter time from referral to death compared to patients without COVID-19. Breathlessness, drowsiness, agitation, and fever are the most prevalent symptoms during COVID-19 compared to pain and drowsiness pre-COVID-19. Time from admission to referral to palliative care is longer for Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients, especially during COVID-19.
CONCLUSION: Early referral to palliative care is essential in COVID-19, especially for Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups. There is urgent need to research why Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients are referred late; how palliative care services have changed; and possible solutions to setting up responsive, flexible, and integrated services.
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.
CONTEXT: In palliative care, caregivers often lack words and competences to discuss patients' needs in the social and spiritual dimensions. The Utrecht Symptom Diary - 4 Dimensional (USD-4D) is an instrument that can be used to monitor symptoms and needs in the physical, psychological, social and spiritual dimensions and to optimize communication between patients and caregivers.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the content validity of the USD-4D items related to the social and spiritual dimensions from a patient's perspective, measured in terms of comprehensibility, relevance and comprehensiveness.
METHODS: An explorative qualitative study was conducted using in-depth semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis. Twelve participants (male N=7, 53-87 years old) with an estimated life expectancy of < 1 year were recruited in two home care services , a general hospital and a hospice.
RESULTS: The instructions, items and response options were comprehensible for almost all participants. The meaning that was provided to the items was expressed in themes: maintaining personal identity and autonomy, resilience, letting go, perceived balance in one's life and death and afterlife. This corresponds with the intended meaning. The items were relevant at some points in time. Not all participants had needs for personal care during the interviews. Participants found the USD-4D comprehensive, no key concepts related to the social or spiritual dimensions appeared to be missing.
CONCLUSIONS: The USD-4D constitutes a content valid PROM from the patient's perspective. The items support patients' in identifying needs in the social and spiritual dimensions and in the conversation to further explore these needs.
Background: Patients with advanced cancer commonly report depressive symptoms. Examinations of gender differences in depressive symptoms in patients with advanced cancer have yielded inconsistent findings.
Aim: The objective of this study was to investigate whether the severity and correlates of depressive symptoms differ by gender in patients with advanced cancer.
Design: Participants completed measures assessing sociodemographic and medical characteristics, disease burden, and psychosocial factors. Depressive symptoms were examined using the Patient Health Questionnaire, and other measures included physical functioning, symptom burden, general anxiety, death related distress, and dimensions of demoralization. A cross-sectional analysis examined the univariate and multivariate relationships between gender and depressive symptoms, while controlling for important covariates in multivariate analyses.
Setting/participants: Patients with advanced cancer (N = 305, 40% males and 60% females) were recruited for a psychotherapy trial from outpatient oncology clinics at a comprehensive cancer center in Canada.
Results: Severity of depressive symptoms was similar for males (M = 7.09, SD = 4.59) and females (M = 7.66, SD = 5.01), t(303) = 1.01, p = 0.314. Greater general anxiety and number of cancer symptoms were associated with depressive symptoms in both males and females. Feeling like a failure (ß = 0.192), less death anxiety (ß = –0.188), severity of cancer symptoms (ß = 0.166), and older age (ß = 0.161) were associated with depressive symptoms only in males, while disheartenment (ß = 0.216) and worse physical functioning (ß = 0.275), were associated with depressive symptoms only in females.
Conclusions: Males and females report similar levels of depressive symptoms but the pathways to depression may differ by gender. These differences suggest the potential for gender-based preventive and therapeutic interventions in this population.
INTRODUCTION: An interdisciplinary team approach to patients in specialised palliative care is recommended; however, the composition of the professionals tends to vary, and the roles of physiotherapists and occupational therapists may be underestimated. We aimed to investigate patient-reported unmet needs, which potentially could benefit from physiotherapy and occupational therapy interventions in a specialised palliative care team.
METHODS: Adult patients with chronic advanced diseases referred to the Specialised Palliative Care Team at Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet were enrolled in the study. The Three-Levels-of-Needs Questionnaire was used as primary outcome to assess symptom/problem intensity, symptom/problem burden and felt needs for 12 commonly reported symptoms/problems for patients referred to a specialised palliative care team. Furthermore, participants' level of distress, fatigue and physical activity, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and barriers towards the rehabilitation programme were registered with other measures.
RESULTS: In total, 43 of 67 (64%) patients participated. The majority of participants reported severe symptoms/problems concerning fatigue (81%), impaired physical activities (77%), carrying out work and daily activities (77%), pain (72%), and worries (58%). Furthermore, need for help was expressed concerning physical activities (79%), work and daily activities (77%), fatigue (70%), pain (65%), concentration (58%) and worries (51%). On average the patients characterised 6 (out of 12) symptoms/problems as severe.
CONCLUSION: Patients referred to a specialised palliative care team reported extensive unmet needs concerning physical activities, work and daily activities, fatigue, pain, concentration and worries. Unmet needs that potentially could be alleviated by physiotherapists or occupational therapists implemented in the interdisciplinary team.
Purpose: The prognosis of patients with advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains dismal. New cytotoxic agents such as nab-paclitaxel and liposomal irinotecan (nal-Iri) have extended the armamentarium of therapeutic options in the last years. Nowadays, sequential therapeutic strategies with moderately toxic chemotherapeutic protocols can be administered to the patients. However, prognostic and predictive biomarkers are still missing to identify those patients, which profit most from a “continuum of care” concept rather than receiving intensive first-line protocols such as FOLFIRINOX. To this end, we retrospectively evaluated the impact of the systemic inflammation as one essential hallmark of cancer in patients with advanced PDAC treated with sequential systemic.
Methods: A cohort of 193 PDAC patients treated at our center from January 2005 to August 2011 were retrospectively evaluated for the following systemic inflammatory response (SIR) markers: neutrophil–lymphocyte ratio (NLR), lymphocyte–monocyte ratio (LMR) C-reactive protein (CRP), and the modified Glasgow Prognostic Score (mGPS). SIR markers were correlated with clinico-pathological findings, response to chemotherapy and overall survival (OS) using Kaplan–Meier curves and Cox proportional models.
Results: All evaluated SIR markers were significantly associated with OS in patients with metastatic disease but not in patients with locally advanced PDAC. Interestingly, all SIR markers were only prognostic in patients not receiving antibiotics as surrogate marker for systemic bacterial infections. Based on the evaluated SIR markers, we propose a new Systemic Inflammation Score (SIS), which significantly correlated with reduced OS (HR: 3.418 (1.802–6.488, p < 0.001)) and the likelihood of receiving further-line systemic therapies (p = 0.028).
Conclusion: Routinely assessed SIR biomarkers have potential to support therapeutic decision making in patients with metastatic PDAC.
Research suggests variation in how grief develops across time, and gender may account for some of this variation. However, gender differences in growth patterns of the newly codified ICD-11 prolonged grief disorder (PGD) are unknown. This study examined gender-specific variances in grief trajectories in a registry-sampled cohort of 857 spousal bereaved individuals (69.8% female). Participants completed self-report questionnaires of PGD symptoms at 2, 6, and 11 months post-loss. Using Growth Mixture Modeling, four PGD trajectories emerged: resilient characterized by low symptoms (64.4%), moderate-stable characterized by moderate symptoms (20.4%), recovery characterized by elevated symptoms showing a decrease over time (8.4%), and prolonged grief characterized by continuous elevated symptoms (6.8%). Similar proportions of men and women comprised the four trajectories. Gender influenced the parameter estimates of the prolonged grief trajectory as men evidenced more baseline symptoms (higher intercept) than women did and a decreasing symptom-level (negative slope), while women showed symptom-increase over time (positive slope). The prolonged grief trajectory captured the largest proportion of probable PGD cases in both genders. Low optimism and low mental health predicted membership in this class. Altogether, the absolute majority of both men and women followed a low-symptom resilient trajectory. While a comparable minority followed a high-symptom prolonged grief trajectory, men and women within this trajectory expressed varying symptom development. Men expressed prolonged grief as an acute, decreasing reaction, whereas women showed an adjourned, mounting grief reaction. This study suggests that gender may influence symptom development in highly distressed individuals across early bereavement.
CONTEXT: Palliative care referrals (PCR) improve symptom management, provide psychosocial and spiritual support, clarify goals of care and facilitate discharge planning. However, very late PCR can result in increased clinician distress and prevent patients and families from benefitting from the full spectrum of interdisciplinary care.
METHODS: Consecutive first-time inpatient PCR from September 1, 2013 to August 31, 2017 were identified to determine the frequency and predictors of referrals within 24 hours of death. We compared the clinical characteristics with a random sample of patients discharged alive or died more than 24 hours after first-time PCR as a control, stratified by year of consult in a 1:1 ratio.
RESULTS: Of 7,322 first-time PCR, 154 (2%) died within 24 hours of referral. These patients were older (p=0.003) and had higher scores for depression (p=0.0009), drowsiness (p=0.02) and shortness of breath (p=0.008) compared to a random sample of 153 patients discharged alive or died more than 24 hours after first-time PCR. Patients who received a PCR within 24 hours of death were more likely than the control group to have ECOG 4 (95% vs. 25%, p<0.0001), delirium (89% vs. 17%, p<0.0001), DNR code status (81% vs. 18%, p<0.0001), and hematologic malignancies (39% vs. 16%, p<0.0001). In the multivariate analysis, depression (OR 1.4, p=0.005), DNR code status (OR 9.1, p=0.003) and ECOG 4 (OR 9.8, p=0.003) were independently associated with first-time PCR within 24 hours of death.
CONCLUSION: While only a small proportion of first-time PCR occurred in the last 24 hours of life, the patients had a significant amount of distress, indicating a missed opportunity for timely palliative care intervention. These sentinel events call for specific guidelines to better support patients, families and clinicians during this difficult time. Further research is needed to understand how to minimize very late PCR.
OBJECTIVES: A vital component of the coronavirus response is care of the dying COVID-19 patient. We document the demographics, symptoms experienced, medications required, effectiveness observed, and challenges to high-quality holistic palliative care in 31 patients. This will aid colleagues in primary and secondary care settings anticipate common symptoms and formulate management plans.
METHODS: A retrospective survey was conducted of patients referred to the hospital palliative care service in a tertiary hospital, south east of England between March 21 and April 26, 2020. Patients included had a confirmed laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 via reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction nasopharyngeal swab for SARS-Cov-2 or radiological evidence of COVID-19.
RESULTS: The thirty-one patients included were predominantly male (77%), elderly (median [interquartile range]: 84 [76-89]), and had multiple (4 [3-5]) comorbidities. Referral was made in the last 2 [1-3] days of life. Common symptoms were breathlessness (84%) and delirium (77%). Fifty-eight percent of patients received at least 1 "as required" dose of an opioid or midazolam in the 24 hours before death. Sixty percent of patients needed a continuous subcutaneous infusion and the median morphine dose was 10 mg S/C per 24 hours and midazolam 10 mg S/C per 24 hours. Nineteen percent of our cohort had a loved one or relative present when dying.
CONCLUSION: We provide additional data to the internationally reported pool examining death arising from infection with SARS-CoV-19. The majority of patients had symptoms controlled with low doses of morphine and midazolam, and death was rapid. The impact of low visitation during dying needs exploring.
Les soins palliatifs demandent de plus en plus de compétences médicales, soignantes, humaines et éthiques, afin d’asseoir leur légitimité dans des domaines de plus en plus pointus de la médecine – réanimation, néonatalogie, cancérologie, gériatrie – ainsi que dans la diversité des prises en charge, y compris au domicile ou en EPHAD.
Dans ce contexte de développement des formations et d’élargissement des champs de compétences de la pratique palliative, cette 5e édition du manuel offre :
-les indispensables connaissances thérapeutiques ;
-les outils, à destination des professionnels en vue d’acquérir une compétence clinique pour la rencontre et l’accompagnement humain, psychique et relationnelle de la personne malade ;
-une contextualisation de la pratique des soins palliatifs dans leur dimension sociale, sanitaire et politique ;
-des jalons pédagogiques pour le développement des soins palliatifs dans leur dimension pédagogique et de recherche.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the effect of a systematic, fast-track transition from oncological treatment to specialised palliative care at home on symptom burden, to explore intervention mechanisms through patient and intervention provider characteristics and to assess long-term survival and place of death.
MEASURES: The effect of a systematic, fast-track transition from oncological treatment to specialised palliative care at home on patient symptom burden was studied in the Domus randomised clinical trial. Participants had incurable cancer and limited treatment options. The intervention was provided by specialised palliative home teams (SPT) based in hospice or hospital and was enriched with a psychological intervention for patient and caregiver dyad. Symptom burden was measured with Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS-r) at baseline, 8 weeks and 6 months follow-up and analysed with mixed models. Survival and place of death was analysed with Kaplan-Meier and Fisher's exact tests.
RESULTS: The study included 322 patients. Tiredness was significantly improved for the Domus intervention group at 6 months while the other nine symptom outcomes were not significantly different from the control group. Exploring the efficacy of intervention provider demonstrated significant differences in favour of the hospice SPT on four symptoms and total symptom score. Patients with children responded more favourably to the intervention. The long-term follow-up demonstrated no differences between the intervention and the control groups regarding survival or home deaths.
CONCLUSIONS: The Domus intervention may reduce tiredness. Moreover, the intervention provider and having children might play a role concerning intervention efficacy. The intervention did not affect survival or home deaths.
CONTEXT: Currently, systematic evidence of prevalence of clinically significant depressive symptoms in people with extremely short prognoses is not available to inform its global burden, assessment, and management.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of clinically significant depressive symptoms in people with advanced life-limiting illnesses and extremely short prognoses (range of days to weeks).
METHODS: A systematic review and meta-analysis (random effects model) were performed (PROSPERO: CRD42019125119). MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and CareSearch were searched for studies (1994-2019). Data were screened for prevalence of clinically significant depressive symptoms (assessed using validated depression-specific screening tools or diagnostic criteria) of adults with advanced life-limiting illnesses and extremely short prognoses (defined by survival or functional status). Quality assessment was performed using the Joanna Briggs Institute Systematic Reviews Checklist for Prevalence Studies for individual studies, and Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) across studies.
RESULTS: Thirteen studies were included. The overall pooled prevalence of clinically significant depressive symptoms in adults with extremely short prognoses (n = 10 studies; extremely short prognoses: N = 905) using depression-specific screening tools was 50% (95%CI: 29%-70%; I2 = 97.6%). Prevalence of major and minor depression were 10% (95%CI: 4%-16%) and 5% (95%CI: 2%-8%), respectively. Major limitations included high heterogeneity, selection bias and small sample sizes in individual studies.
CONCLUSIONS: Clinically significant depressive symptoms were prevalent in people with advanced life-limiting illnesses and extremely short prognoses. Clinicians need to be proactive in the recognition and assessment of these symptoms to allow for timely intervention.
Background and study aims: Acute health service requires focused palliative care (PC). This study was performed to provide guidance for the establishment of a palliative care consultation service (PCCS).
Patients and methods: This study was conceived as a retrospective single-center study for observing, analyzing and evaluating the initial setup of a PCCS from 1 May 2015 to 31 May 2018. Patients from Muenster University Hospital with advanced life-limiting diseases, identified to require PC, were included.
Results: PCCS was requested from various departments, for between 20 and 80 patients per month, corresponding to a total of 2359 for the study period. Requests were highest in internal medicine (27.3%), gynecology (18.1%) and radiotherapy (17.6%). Time to referral was significantly shorter in departments with special PCCS ward rounds (6 ± 9 vs. 12 ± 22 days, p < 0.001). The most frequently reported symptoms were fatigue, pain and loss of appetite. Pain was frequently localized in the stomach (20.4%), back (17.1%), or in the head and neck area (14.9%). After the first PCCS consultation, 254 patients (90%) reported sufficient pain relief after 48 h. An introduction/modification of painkiller medication, which was recommended for 142 inpatients, was implemented in 57.0% of cases by the respective departments. Overall, the direct realization of PCCS recommendations reached only 50% on average.
Conclusions: Besides an analysis of the ability to address the symptoms of the referred patients by the PCCS, this study highlights the importance of the interaction between PCCS and other departments. It further elucidates the role and possibilities of this service both in regular ward rounds and individual staff contacts.
Background: The assessment of patients’ quality of life (QOL) is essential when evaluating the outcome of palliative care; however, no instruments have been validated for measuring symptoms and QOL in patients receiving palliative care in Chile. We aimed to investigate the content validity of the EORTC Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 15 Palliative Care (QLQ-C15-PAL), replicating the methods used previously to shorten the EORTC Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30 (QLQ-C30) for use among patients in palliative care.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted from October to November 2017 in four palliative care services. Patients with advanced cancer and health care professionals (HCPs) were invited to individual interviews to determine the relevance, appropriateness and relative importance of the 30 items of the QLQ-C30 for evaluating the outcome of palliative care, and whether relevant additional issues should be included.
Results: A total of 48 patients and 35 HCPs participated. The most important dimensions selected were pain, physical functioning, sleeping difficulties, emotional functioning, nausea/vomiting, fatigue, social functioning, lack of appetite, role functioning and constipation. Qualitative data identified important additional issues not covered by the questionnaire such as satisfaction with care, emotions and psychological support, as well as linguistic issues in the dyspnea and constipation items.
Conclusions: The EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL showed good content validity in the assessment of symptoms and QOL of advanced cancer patients; therefore, we recommend the use of this questionnaire in palliative care in Chile. Dyspnea and constipation items were revised by the EORTC group. More research is needed to add a social dimension for a comprehensive assessment of patients’ QOL.