OBJECTIVE: Although in recent years the world has witnessed great advances in the medical field, much ambiguity still surrounds the issue of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, with increasingly favorable attitudes amongst physicians around the world. In our study, we aimed to assess the attitudes of physicians in Kuwait towards different types of euthanasia, and to examine whether physicians' frequent encounters with terminally-ill patients were associated with their approval.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS: We conducted a cross sectional study on 464 physicians employed in government hospitals (6 general and 3 specialty hospitals). A self-administered questionnaire adapted from previous studies was used.
RESULTS: 43.9% of the physicians in our study reported that the Ministry of Health should legalize euthanasia under certain restricted conditions. In addition, 29.1% of our population was willing to perform euthanasia. After controlling for several characteristics in logistic regression analysis, approval of passive euthanasia was significantly associated with two factors: frequent exposure to terminally-ill patients (AOR=2.45) and obtaining the basic medical degree from Asia (AOR= 4.36) or North America/Europe (AOR= 3.24) compared to Kuwait. Male gender was significantly associated with willingness to perform euthanasia. Religion was the major reason for opposing euthanasia.
CONCLUSION: The attitude of the physicians towards euthanasia are diverse, therefore the Ministry of Health should provide guidelines for physicians dealing with situations where patients or their families request euthanasia.
OBJECTIVE: Family caregivers (FCs) in China provide hospice care to terminally ill cancer patients; however, few studies have been conducted in China on caregiver burden and bereavement experiences as a process that continues over time. The purpose of this study was to identify the main elements of caring and bereavement experiences for FCs caring for patients diagnosed with terminal cancer.
METHOD: Twenty in-depth qualitative semistructured interviews were conducted with FCs providing care in a hospice unit in Shenzhen, Southern China. Interview transcripts were analyzed via thematic content analysis. Result A framework based on the following eight principal themes was developed through content analysis of our FC interviews: symptoms of the illness, the truth-telling process, attitudes toward death, the "color" of death, social and professional support, the moment of death, and grief and loss.Significance of results: The analysis showed that caregiving may positively or negatively influence the bereavement process.
BACKGROUND: Shared decision making is a collaborative process that allows patients, or their surrogates, and clinicians to make health care decisions together. There is an imperative to teach young physicians early in their training the importance of engaging in a shared decision-making process to define overall goals of care (GOC). The PERSON mnemonic proposes a structured format that allows providers to evaluate GOC across the spectrum of serious illnesses, outside of breaking bad news or end-of-life planning.
OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated the utility of the PERSON mnemonic in training residents to have GOC with their patients, and investigated if these skills translated to the bedside with real patient encounters.
METHODS: First-year residents were divided into groups to participate in an in-depth education session. A pre-/postbaseline survey was administered immediately after the education intervention and approximately seven months later to assess retention and utility.
RESULTS: Thirty first-year residents were eligible for this study; 30 attended the educational sessions and completed the immediate baseline pre-/postsurvey and the seven-month follow-up survey, resulting in 100% retention rate throughout study. Residents found sustained utility in the mnemonic. It was significantly successful in increasing the knowledge and confidence level in exploring GOC. Patient-centered outcomes could not be analyzed due to low response rates and limited granularity of hospital-level data.
CONCLUSION: The PERSON mnemonic is a feasible and useful format for teaching residents how to have a GOC discussion.
A child's death is a traumatic life experience for parents. Health-care professionals (HCPs) have sought guidance on how to intervene with grieving parents, particularly with fathers. Having therapeutic conversations is an effective way for HCPs to support grieving fathers. In our previous study, fathers identified core beliefs that influenced their experience of grief and coping. In this article, the Illness Beliefs Model was integrated with the findings to provide a framework for interventions to create open conversations, ease fathers' suffering, and thereby help their spouse and family suffering as well. This article will guide HCPs to engage in therapeutic conversations to support bereaved fathers.
Requests for hastened death and suicidal ideation may be more prevalent in populations approaching the end of life. Often these wishes and thoughts occur in the context of concurrent psychiatric disorders and emotional suffering. We discuss the case of a veteran with terminal lung cancer and comorbid psychiatric illness who attempted suicide while under the care of an inpatient interdisciplinary hospice team and describe our team's response to this suicide attempt. We review risk factors for suicidality at end of life, challenges of distinguishing desire for hastened death from suicidality, and the ethics of resuscitation of a dying patient after a suicide attempt.
OBJECTIVE: Thiamine deficiency (TD) is recognized in various kinds of disease with associated loss of appetite including cancer; however, TD has not been recognized in the family caregivers of cancer patients to date.
METHOD: From a series of cancer patient caregivers, we reported an aged family caregiver who developed TD while caring for the cancer patient.Result: The caregiver was a 90-year-old male. He had been accompanying his wife, who was diagnosed with colon cancer 4 years previously, on hospital visits as the primary caregiver, but because of psychological issues, he was recommended to visit the psycho-oncology department's "caregiver's clinic" for a consultation. Detailed examination revealed that his appetite had been only about 50% of usual from about one year before, and he had lost 12 kg in weight in one year. The diagnosis of TD was supported by his abnormally low serum thiamine level.Significance of the results: This report demonstrates that there is a possibility that care providers could develop TD from the burdens associated with caregiving. TD should be considered whenever there is a loss of appetite lasting for more than 2 weeks, and medical staff should pay careful attention to the physical condition of care providers to prevent complications resulting from TD.
Aim: To examine the effect of a video-supported nurse-led advance care planning to frail geriatric patients on end-of-life decision-making outcomes in patients and their carers.
Design: This is a double-blinded randomized controlled trial with parallel arms.
Methods: The protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the participating hospital on 1 August 2018. Frail elders and their carer if any are enrolled during hospitalization, and undergo randomization after discharged. The intervention group receives a 2-week video-supported nurse-led advance care planning programme (N = 149) while the control group receives a 2-week health education program at home (N = 149). Follow-up surveys via telephone at 1 and 6 months measure outcomes regarding end-of-life decision-making from both the patients and the carers.
Conclusion: Advance care planning discussion is to understand patient's values, preferences and treatment for care on their anticipation of future deterioration. Treatment options for end-of-life care may not be well-received especially elders because in the discussion process, technical medical terms are presented in an abstract, hypothetical way that are hard to understand. The present study aims to evaluate the effect of a nurse-led advance care planning supplementing with a video showing end-of-life treatment options to promote end-of-life care decision-making among frail geriatric patients.
Impact: The results will help identify effective elements of advance care planning and inform the development of an evidence?based structured advance care planning intervention in response to the need for quality end-of-life care.
What is known about the topic?
Palliative medicine is increasingly encountered in an emergency medicine setting, and emergency medicine residents desire further training in this field.
What did this study ask?
How many postgraduate emergency medicine programs in Canada have an existing palliative medicine curriculum?
What did this study find?
A minority (38.5%) of emergency medicine programs report having a formal palliative medicine curriculum, and the contents are variable.
Why does this study matter to clinicians?
It will be important to define how trainees will achieve competence in palliative medicine in the emergency department.
Advance directives (AD) can be used for the communication of healthcare decisions that may be required in the future when individuals have lost their capacity to make such decisions. The aim of this study is to examine the prevalence, perception, and predictors of AD completion in the Hong Kong general population with a diverse culture. Through random-digit dialing, a population-based telephone survey was conducted with participants aged 18 or above. Socio-demographic characteristics, self-perception and health status, prevalence of AD, and perceptions related to AD were assessed. The acceptance on completing AD was measured by the summed score on the level of agreement in making AD. In total, 2002 participants completed the survey, with only 0.5% having made AD. However, the majority of those who had heard about AD had made or intended to make AD (80.2%). Multivariable regression analysis showed that being religious, being optimistic, and agreeing to respect patients' wishes are independently associated with higher AD acceptance. Being a student is associated with lower AD acceptance. The extremely low completion rate of AD, but high acceptance of AD urges for more active promotion of AD to the public and education on end-of-life care among university students.
AIM: The purpose of this study was to compare how planning has developed over the 5 years across a range of children's health care services in a single U.K. city.
BACKGROUND: Advanced planning for end of life care (EOLC) is an essential component of care for children with life-limiting and life-threatening (LLLT) conditions. We report the findings of a follow-up study (R2) completed 5 years after the initial review (R1). Documented advanced care planning (ACP) was measured against published children's palliative care standards.
METHOD: We used a manual retrospective review of health care records, using focused data collection. Inclusion criteria were children who died before the age of 18 years, as a consequence of an LLLT condition, over an 18-month period and had lived locally to a regional children's hospital.
RESULTS: The first review (R1) included 48 patients with 114 health care records: median age at death 0 years (range 0 to 18 years). The follow-up review (R2) included 47 patients, with 80 health care records: median age at death 2 years (range 0 to 17 years). The proportion of records containing evidence of a prognostic discussion had risen from 73% (R1) to 91% (R2), p < 0.005. The proportion of health care records with ACP was consistent between R1 and R2 (75% and 72%, respectively). An ACP tool was found to be in regular use in R2 compared with no examples in R1. The acute hospital trust plans were more detailed in R2 than R1. The proportion of cases where preferred location of death matched actual location was stable, around half.
CONCLUSIONS: EOLC conversations increased over the 5 years studied. In the acute hospital trust, there is evidence of a better quality ACP although quantity is stable: enabled by the implementation of an ACP tool and education programme. Challenges remain in engaging children and young people in advanced planning.
Physician aid-in-dying (PAD) is now legalized in more than half a dozen states across the United States yet remains controversial among health care providers and the general public. Previous studies have described physicians' and nurses' experiences with and attitudes about PAD; however, there is no data about PAD in the context of genetic counseling. This study explores genetic counselors' experiences, understanding, training, and perspectives about PAD. Fifteen participants were recruited to complete semistructured telephone interviews. Five participants had received patient inquiries about PAD. Most participants (n = 10) did not feel prepared to discuss PAD with patients and felt that they did not have adequate knowledge to answer patient questions about the practice. Participants described how the unique training, skills, and experiences of genetic counselors could be beneficial for discussing PAD with patients, in comparison to other providers. All participants supported training for genetic counselors about PAD, with many suggesting integration with education about palliative care and end-of-life planning. This is the first study to investigate PAD in the context of genetic counseling. Genetic counselors have had patients ask questions about PAD, want education and access to resources about PAD, and believe they can provide important support and guidance to patients considering PAD in some genetic counseling contexts.
OBJECTIVES: Caregivers of persons with dementia can experience loss and grief long before the death of the person. Although the phenomenon of caregiver grief has been increasingly described, it is uncertain if caregiver grief has independent effects-separate from the well-studied construct of caregiver burden-on adverse outcomes such as caregiver depression. We sought to compare the effects of baseline grief and burden on caregiver depression at baseline and 2.5 years later.
DESIGN AND SETTING: A cohort study with 2.5 years of follow-up.
PARTICIPANTS: Family caregivers of community-dwelling persons with dementia (n = 183).
MEASURES: Participants completed questionnaires with scales that assessed caregiver grief, burden, and depression. Baseline grief and burden scores were included in a path analysis to predict depression at baseline and at 2.5 years.
RESULTS: At baseline, grief and burden had synergistic relationships with each other (P = .012), where the high levels of grief amplified the effect of burden on caregiver depression. Both grief and burden had longitudinal effects on caregiver depression at 2.5 years (P <.001 and P = .047, respectively), albeit with some differences in mechanism; both had effects which were indirectly mediated through baseline depression (P < .001 and P = .002, respectively), but only grief had a direct path toward depression at 2.5 years (P = .030), which was distinct from baseline depression.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The findings highlight the need to identify and address caregiver grief in dementia services. They present a window of opportunity to improve caregiving outcomes, especially during the "latent phase" when caregivers encounter loss and grief but have yet to fully experience the debilitating effects of depression.
Background: Studies on mental health following disasters have primarily focused on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), yet severe, enduring, and disabling grief [i.e. complicated grief (CG)] also appears relevant. Objective: The present study examines symptom profiles of PTSD and CG among bereaved Sichuan earthquake survivors 1 year after the disaster. Method: Self-report measures of demographic, disaster, and loss-related characteristics and symptoms of PTSD and CG were administered among 803 survivors (63% women; mean age = 46.7 years). Latent class analysis (LCA) was performed to identify subgroups of people with different PTSD and CG symptom profiles.
Results: The LCA demonstrated that a five-class solution yielded the best fit, consisting of a CG class with low PTSD and high CG (N = 208), a combined class with high PTSD and high CG (N = 205), a class with low PTSD and partial CG (N = 145), a class with partial PTSD and CG (N = 136), and a resilient class with low PTSD and CG (N = 108). Being a woman (vs man), losing a child or spouse (vs other), being injured (vs non-injured), and/or having a missing family member (vs non-missing) predicted membership of the CG class compared to other classes. Conclusions: CG appears to be a unique consequence of disasters involving many casualties. Disaster survivors should be screened for CG and provided with appropriate psychological treatment.
ackground/Aim: Previous studies have shown anti-proliferative and anti-apoptotic effects of omega-3 fatty acids (Omegaven®) in vitro and in vivo. Whether this effect can be exploited in patients with advanced esophago-gastric adenocarcinoma is unknown. The present study intended to determine the tumour radiological response and toxicity profile of intravenous omega-3 fish oil infusion when combined with standard palliative chemotherapy, and present the effects of this treatment on plasma cytokine biomarkers.
Materials and Methods: Participants with advanced esophago-gastric adenocarcinoma were enrolled in a phase II single-arm clinical trial of palliative chemotherapy (epirubicin, oxaliplatin, and capecitabine; EOX) coupled with weekly infusion of Omegaven®. Outcomes were compared to those observed in 37 historical control patients who had received EOX alone. Toxicity was graded using the CTCAE v4.03 and radiological response was assessed using RECIST v1.1. Plasma cytokine levels of IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, TNF-a, and VEGF were evaluated by ELISA.
Results: Twenty participants were included in the analysis. Radiological responses were as follows: partial response (EOX plus omega-3 group 73% vs. EOX alone 39%, p=0.03), stable disease (EOX plus omega-3 21% vs. EOX alone 39%, p=0.24), and progressive disease (EOX plus omega-3 7% vs. EOX alone 18%, p=0.34). Grade 3 or 4 toxicity was less common (thromboembolism & gastrointestinal) in those who received EOX plus omega-3. This translated into fewer hospital admissions. There were significant reductions in the concentrations of IL-2 (p=0.009), TNF-a (p<0.0001) and VEGF (p=0.002) following each treatment.
Conclusion: The treatment with supplementary omega-3 fatty acids reduced chemotherapy-related toxicity and resulted in better radiological responses. The combination treatment resulted in a shift towards a favourable anti-inflammatory cytokine profile. These findings should be evaluated in a randomised clinical trial.
PURPOSE: Suicide bereavement confers unique risk and distress. In several countries, bereaved family members are called on to attend an inquest, an official public inquiry into deaths caused by external factors. The current study aimed to explore how suicide-bereaved family members (n = 18) experienced the inquest process, through qualitative semi-structured interviews.
METHOD: Participants were identified via coroner's records and had previously taken part in a case-control study.
RESULTS: Qualitative findings indicated four overall themes with respect to family members' experiences of the inquest process: "inquest as fearfully unknown", "structural processes of the inquest", "enduring public and private pain to obtain answers" and "gaining answers and making sense". Most family members experienced distress and fear as a result of several elements of the inquest process. Some participants had positive experiences but these did not outweigh the distress experienced by the majority of family members regarding their overall experience of the inquest process.
CONCLUSIONS: Key recommendations include informing family members of the main aspects and purpose of the inquest process beforehand, adapting the process to maximise the privacy and comfort of the bereaved relatives, and restricting graphic evidence being heard, where possible, to minimise distress experienced by family members.
Background and aim: More than 50% of the liver should be drained in case of unresectable hilar liver stenosis; however, it remains unclear if the use of several types of drainage (endoscopic retrograde cholangiography and pancreatography, percutaneous-biliary drainage, endoscopic ultrasound biliary drainage (EUS-BD)), allowing better drainage, has an impact on survival. The aim of our study was to evaluate the percentage of liver drained and its correlation on survival whatever the drainage technique used.
Patients and methods: This study was a retrospective analysis of a prospective registry of patients with malignant drainage stenosis of the hilum. The quality of drainage was evaluated based on the percentage of liver segments drained, which was calculated by dividing the number of liver segments drained by the total number of liver segments. Drainage could be achieved via an endoscopic, EUS-guided or percutaneous route not associated with the procedure.
Results: Sixty patients (38 men) were included from January 2015 to July 2016. The mean patient age was 69.84 years. Stenosis was classified as type II for 17 (29%) patients, type III for 20 (34%) patients, and type IV for 22 (37%) patients. Histology revealed cholangiocarcinoma for 26 (43%) patients, metastatic disease from colorectal cancer for 15 (25%) patients and another cancer for 19 (32%) patients. The median survival time was five (2.3–12.3) months.
The percentage of liver segments drained had a significant prognostic impact on overall survival regardless of the technique used to drain the liver. The percentage of liver segments drained was dichotomized based on a threshold value of 80%, resulting in two groups (<80% and =80%). Univariate analysis of overall survival revealed that the patients with <80% of liver segments drained had significantly worse prognoses (hazard ratio (HR) = 3.25 (1.66–6.36), p < 0.001) than the patients with =80% of liver segments drained. This effect was confirmed in multivariate analysis (HR = 2.46 (1.16–5.23), p = 0.02).
The other factor that affected survival was invasion of <50% of the liver by the tumor.
A receiver operating characteristic curve was used to establish a correlation between patients receiving chemotherapy and the percentage of liver drained (area under the curve = 0.77 (0.65–0.88)).
Conclusion: The survival of patients with malignant stenosis of the biliary confluence is highly correlated with the percentage of liver segments drained, regardless of the technique used.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of mortality. Since patients with severe COPD may experience exacerbations and eventually face mortality, advanced care planning (ACP) has been increasingly emphasized in the recent COPD guidelines. We conducted a multicenter, cross-sectional study to survey the current perspectives of Japanese COPD patients toward ACP. “High-risk” COPD patients and their attending physicians were consecutively recruited. The patients’ family configurations, understanding of COPD pathophysiology, current end-of-life care communication with physicians and family members, and preferences for invasive life-sustaining treatments including mechanical ventilation (MV) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) were evaluated using a custom-made, structured, self-administered questionnaire. Attending physicians were also interviewed, and we evaluated the patient–physician agreement. Among the 224 eligible “high-risk” patients, 162 participated. Half of the physicians (54.4%) thought they had communicated detailed information; however, only 19.4% of the COPD patients thought the physicians did so ( score = 0.16). Less than 10% of patients wanted to receive invasive treatment (MV, 6.3% and CPR, 9.4%); interestingly, more than half marked their decision as “refer to the physician” (MV 42.5% and CPR 44.4%) or “refer to family” (MV, 13.8% and CPR, 14.4%). Patients with less knowledge of COPD were less likely to indicate that they had already made a decision. Although ACP is necessary to cope with severe COPD, Japanese “high-risk” COPD patients were unable to make a decision on their preferences for invasive treatments. Lack of disease knowledge and communication gaps between patients and physicians should be addressed as part of these patients’ care.
BACKGROUND: Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is an advance care planning tool that is designed to document end-of-life (EoL) care wishes of those living with limited life expectancies. Although positive impacts of POLST program has been studied, variations in state-specific POLST programs across the nation remain unknown.
OBJECTIVE: Identify state variations in POLST forms and determine if variations are associated with program maturity status.
DESIGN: Environmental scan.
MEASUREMENTS: Using the national POLST website, state-specific POLST program characteristics were examined. With available sample POLST forms, EoL care options were abstracted.
RESULTS: Of all 51 states (50 United States states and Washington, D.C examined), the majority (n = 48, 98%) were actively participating in POLST; 3 states (5.9%) had Mature status, 19 states and District of Columbia (39.2%) were Endorsed, 24 states were in the developing phase (47.1%), and 4 states (7.8%) were nonconforming. Forty-five states (88.2%) had forms available for review. Antibiotic and intravenous fluid options were identified in 32 (71.1%), and 33 (73.3%) POLST forms, respectively. Hospital transfer and use of oxygen were mentioned in all forms. Use of respiratory devices (i.e., continuous positive airway pressure and bi-level positive airway pressure) were mentioned on 27 (60%) forms, whereas ventilator or intubation use were mentioned in 36 POLST forms (80%). No associations were found between POLST maturity status and provision of treatment options.
CONCLUSIONS: Variations in integration of infection and symptom management options were identified. Further research is needed to determine if there are regional factors associated with provision of treatment options on POLST forms and if there are differences in actual rates of infection or symptoms reported.
Today every aspect of our life is published and shared online, including grief. The virtual cemeteries and social networks' use could be considered as a new modern mortuary ritual. Starting from the keyword stillbirth, 50 videos published on YouTube since 2008 have been analyzed qualitatively. The videos, 70% published by the mother, with an average length of 5.52 minutes, a mean of 2,429,576 views and 2,563 of comments, follow a sort of script: the second part with black and white photos, background music, and religious references. Could the continuous access to the child's technological grave encourage a complicated grief or be a support, given by the interaction with users, limiting the sense of isolation. The parent shows his or her own conceptions about death and, as a modern baptism, presents the child to the whole society. Videos keep child's memory alive and fuel a process of personalization and tenderness in the user.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about doctors' decision-making patterns when using Advance Care Directives (ACDs) particularly for older patients in Australia and New Zealand.
AIMS: To determine the level of agreement amongst Australian and New Zealand doctors' decisions when using ACDs to guide treatment decisions for older patients. To evaluate factors that may affect decision-making including doctors' demographics, vignette complexity and ACD content.
METHODS: In December 2016 to January 2017 a survey was distributed to doctors working within one tertiary hospital network in Melbourne and to doctors registered with the Australian and New Zealand Society of Geriatric Medicine. The survey comprised of 3 vignettes (1, 2, 3) presented with de-identified versions of genuine ACDs (A and B) volunteered by community members via a tertiary hospital ACD service.
RESULTS: 560 doctors submitted completed surveys. The level of agreement between doctors when using ACDs varied by vignette complexity, ACD content, doctor speciality (p = 0.006 vignette 1 ACD A, p = 0.04 vignette 1 ACD B, p = 0.04 vignette 2 ACD A) and doctor seniority (p = 0.04 vignette 1 ACD A, p < 0.0001 vignette 2 ACD A). Australian and New Zealand doctors are infrequently exposed to ACDs in their work, 30% did not know the legal status of ACDs and majority of the cohort requested more education on ACDs.
CONCLUSION: Despite the presence of an ACD, the level of agreement on treatment decisions for older patients when using ACDs varies by vignette complexity, ACD content, speciality and seniority of doctors.