Objective: Neurosurgeons care for critically ill patients near the end of life, yet little is known about how well their training prepares them for this role. We surveyed a random sample of neurosurgery residents to describe the quantity and quality of teaching activities related to serious illness communication and palliative care, and resident attitudes and perceived preparedness to care for seriously ill patients.
Methods: A previously validated survey instrument was adapted to reflect required communication and palliative care competencies in the 2015 the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Milestones for Neurological Surgery. The survey was reviewed for content validity by independent faculty neurosurgeons, piloted with graduating neurosurgical residents, and distributed online in August 2016 to neurosurgery residents in the United States using the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)/Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) Joint Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care email listserv. Multiple choice and Likert scale responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
Results: Sixty-two responses were recorded between August 2016 and October 2016. Most respondents reported no explicit teaching on: explaining risks and benefits of intubation and ventilation (69%), formulating prognoses in neurocritical care (60%), or leading family meetings (69%). Compared to performing craniotomies, respondents had less frequent practice leading discussions about withdrawing life-sustaining treatment (61% vs. 90%, p < 0.01, "weekly or more frequently"), and were less often observed (18% vs. 87%, p < 0.01) and given feedback on their performance (11% vs. 58%, p < 0.01). Nearly all respondents (95%) felt "prepared to discuss withdrawing life-sustaining treatments," however half (48%) reported they "would benefit from more communication training during residency." Most (87%) reported moral distress, agreeing that they "participated in operations and worried whether surgery aligned with patient goals."
Conclusions: Residents in our sample reported limited formal training, and relatively less observation and feedback, on required ACGME competencies in palliative care and communication. Most reported preparedness in this domain, but many were receptive to more training. Better quality and more consistent palliative care education in neurosurgery residency could improve competency and help ensure that neurosurgical care aligns with patient goals.
Perinatal loss, including fetal and infant death, is a devastating experience for parents, resulting in long-term adverse physical and psychosocial outcomes. However, little is known about what services might best support grieving parents. We aimed to understand the role of professional bereavement photography in assisting the grieving process of parents who have lost a fetus or infant, by examining the perspectives of bereaved parents, professional photographers, and health care professionals. Twenty semistructured interviews were conducted, and interview transcripts were analyzed using modified grounded theory. Twenty-three individuals participated, including 6 bereaved parents, 8 photographers, and 9 health care professionals. Analyses generated 5 major themes describing ways in which the photographs were valuable to parents: validation of the experience, permission to share, creation of a permanent and tangible legacy, creation of positive memories, and moving forward after the loss. Hospitals should consider incorporation of professional bereavement photography services into palliative care and bereavement programs.
Background: Palliative care (PC) is an essential component of comprehensive care of patients with intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). In the present study, we sought to characterize the variability of PC use after ICH among US hospitals.
Methods: ICH admissions from hospitals with at least 12 annual ICH cases were identified in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample between 2008 and 2011. We used multilevel logistic regression modeling to estimate between-hospital variance in PC use. We calculated the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), proportional variance change, and median OR after accounting for individual-level and hospital-level covariates.
Results: Among 26,791 ICH admissions, 12.5% received PC (95% CI 11.5-13.5). Among the 629 included hospitals, the median rate of PC use was 9.1 (interquartile range 1.5-19.3) per 100 ICH admissions, and 150 (23.9%) hospitals had no recorded PC use. The ICC of the random intercept (null) model was 0.274, suggesting that 27.4% of the overall variability in PC use was due to between-hospital variability. Adding hospital-level covariates to the model accounted for 25.8% of the between-hospital variance observed in the null model, with 74.2% of between-hospital variance remaining unexplained. The median OR of the fully adjusted model was 2.62 (95% CI 2.41-2.89), indicating that a patient moving from 1 hospital to another with a higher intrinsic propensity of PC use had a 2.63-fold median increase in the odds of receiving PC, independent of patient and hospital factors.
Conclusions: Substantial variation in PC use after ICH exists among US hospitals. A substantial proportion of this between-hospital variability remains unexplained even after accounting for patient and hospital characteristics.
Objective: To improve understandings of the enablers and barriers to maintaining good quality of life for people dying, caring and grieving in rural areas.
Design and setting: In-depth interviews designed on participatory research principles were held with bereaved carers living in a small community in rural Tasmania. Participants had cared for someone until their death within the 3-year period prior.
Participants: Nineteen participants comprising 18 bereaved former carers and one person with a life-limiting illness, and all but four were over retirement age.
Study aim: To explore experiences of end-of-life care in a rural community.
Results: Participants discussed the challenges they experienced during end-of-life caring, including transport into the city for treatment, and access to basic and specialised services. However, they also reported positive aspects of formal and informal palliative care, and described experiences of personable, expert, flexible and innovative caregiving.
Conclusions: The rural location enabled personalised and innovative expressions of care. This research adds new insight into rural end-of-life palliation, as a complex intersection of supererogation, innovation and place-driven care.
Background: With growing expense in chronic illness and end-of-life (EOL) care, population-based interventions are needed to reduce the health care cost and improve patients' quality of life. The authors believe that promotion of palliative medicine is one such intervention and this promotion depends on the acceptance of palliative medicine concepts by health care professionals.
Aims of the studies: Perception of palliative medicine in chronic illness and in EOL care by health care professionals was learned in two studies carried out at a teaching community hospital 14 years apart.
Participants and methods: Voluntary and anonymous surveys were randomly distributed among physicians, nurses, and social workers/case managers. Participants in the two studies presented two different groups of health care providers.
Results of the studies: Results of the two studies were essentially similar. On most of the issues, respondents' perceptions were consistent with palliative medicine concepts and confidence in palliation grew over the 14-year period. The authors call this approach a "palliative attitude." Physicians with greater experience performed better in care planning. Younger physicians were more perceptive to withdrawal of care in futile cases. Participants' religion had no influence on perception of palliative medicine. Attendance of educational activities did not influence attitudes of health care professionals. Health care providers who favored involvement of palliative care teams in patients' management were better in care planning, interpretation of the DNR consent, use of opioids at the EOL, use of intensive care, and evaluation of the disease trajectory.
Conclusion: The authors conclude that direct interaction between palliative and interdisciplinary teams in clinical practice is the key factor in the education of health care professionals, in the development of a "palliative attitude," and in the promotion of palliative medicine.
Purpose: This retrospective study aimed to evaluate the stability and fracture rates of osteolytic spinal bone metastases (SBM) in elderly patients following palliative radiotherapy (RT) and to derive prognostic factors for stability and survival.
Methods: A total of 322 patients aged at least 70 years received palliative RT at two major German academic medical centers or at the German Cancer Research Center. Stability assessment was based on the validated Taneichi score prior to RT and at 3 and 6 months after RT. The survival time following RT was assessed, and prognostic factors for stability and survival were analyzed.
Results: Prior to RT, 183 patients (57%) exhibited unstable SBM and 68 patients (21%) pathological fractures. At 3 and 6 months after RT, significant recalcification and stabilization were evident in 19% (23/118) and 40% (31/78) of surviving patients, respectively. Only 17 patients (5%) experienced new pathological fractures following RT. Tumor histology was found to significantly influence stabilization rates with only breast cancer patients exhibiting increased stabilization compared to patients with other histologies. The median survival time and 6-month survival rates following RT were 5.4 months (95% confidence interval 4.4-7.2 months) and 48%, respectively. The patients' performance status was found to be the strongest predictor for survival after RT in this patient cohort; further factors demonstrating a significant association with survival were the application of systemic treatment, the number of SBM and the primary tumor histology. To analyze the influence of age on survival after RT, study patients were stratified into 3 age groups (i.e., 70-74 years, 75-79 years, and >=80 years). The subgroup of patients aged at least 80 years showed a strong trend towards a worse survival time following RT compared to younger patients (i.e., 6-month survival rate 39% vs. 51%; p = 0.06, log-rank test).
Conclusions: Prognostic factors influencing overall survival such as performance status and histology should guide the choice for palliative RT for SBM. Strongly hypofractionated RT regimes may be advisable for most elderly patients considering the overall poor prognosis in order to reduce hospitalization times.
BACKGROUND: Nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNA) have a crucial role in 24/7 continuity of palliative care for many vulnerable patients and families, however, their perspective has been largely omitted in reported barriers to palliative care.
AIM: To describe barriers to ideal palliative care that are specific to nurses and CNAs working in all care settings.
METHODS: A cross-sectional, online survey was distributed to members of the Dutch Nurses' Association.
FINDINGS: Almost 50% of the participating 2377 nurses and CNAs experienced more than five barriers to ideal palliative care in their work situation; nurses and CNAs employed in regional hospitals, mental healthcare and nursing home settings encountered more barriers than those working in other settings.
CONCLUSION: The three most common barriers were: lack of proactive care planning, lack of internal consultation possibilities and lack of assessment of care recipients' preferences and needs for a seamless transition to another setting.
Cultural competence, a clinical skill to recognise patients' cultural and religious beliefs, is an integral element in patient-centred medical practice. In the area of death and dying, physicians' understanding of patients' and families' values is essential for the delivery of culturally appropriate care. Dementia is a neurodegenerative condition marked by the decline of cognitive functions. When the condition progresses and deteriorates, patients with advanced dementia often have eating and swallowing problems and are at high risk of developing malnutrition. Enteral tube feeding is a conventional means of providing artificial nutrition and hydration to meet nutritional needs, but its benefits to the frail population are limitedly shown in the clinical evidence. Forgoing tube feeding is ethically challenging when patients are mentally incompetent and in the absence of an advance directive. Unlike some developed countries, like the United States of America, death and dying is a sensitive issue or even a taboo in some cultures in developing countries that forgoing enteral tube feeding is clinically and ethically challenging, such as China and Malaysia. This article in three parts 1) discusses the clinical and ethical issues related to forgoing tube feeding among patients with advanced dementia, 2) describes how Hong Kong Chinese, North American, and Malaysian Islamic cultures respond differently in the decision-making patterns of forgoing tube feeding for patients with advanced dementia, and 3) reiterates the clinical implications of cultural competence in end-of-life care.
La conflictualité présente au sein de toute relation humaine et donc dans toute relation de soin occupe nécessairement une place aussi prépondérante dans la recherche en sciences humaines et sociales. La psychologie clinique, qui vise à donner du sens à ces divers conflits, afin non pas de les faire taire à tout prix mais bien de permettre leur expressivité, se doit aussi de s'interroger sur les conflits qu'elle porte en elle-même.
Plus que le conflit, ce qui peut être problématique, voire destructeur, c'est son mode de résolution et surtout le cadre dans lequel celui-ci se déroule. Si l'environnement est dédié à la défiance, le conflit peut être problématique. En revanche, si c'est la confiance qui prédomine alors les différents interactants savent qu'il se situe dans un cadre bienveillant et, dès lors, si les arguments échangés sont bien à discuter, ils ne portent pas en eux de charge délétère.
Adaptive regulation of positive and negative affect after the loss of a loved one may foster recovery. In two studies, using similar methods but different samples, we explored the association between positive (i.e., dampening and enhancing) and negative (i.e., rumination) affect regulation strategies and symptoms levels of postloss psychopathology. Study 1 used data from 187 people confronted with the death of a loved one. In study 2, the sample consisted of 134 relatives of long-term missing persons. Participants completed self-reports tapping prolonged grief, depression, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and affect regulation strategies. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that both negative and positive affect regulation strategies explained significant amounts of variance symptom levels in both samples. In line with previous work, our results suggest that negative and positive affect regulation strategies relate to postloss psychopathology. Future research should explore how both affect regulation strategies may adequately be addressed in treatment.
Although male suicide has received research attention, the gendered experiences of men bereaved by male suicide are poorly understood. Addressing this knowledge gap, we share findings drawn from a photovoice study of Canadian-based men who had lost a male friend, partner, or family member to suicide. Two categories depicting the men's overall account of the suicide were inductively derived: (a) unforeseen suicide and (b) rationalized suicide. The "unforeseen suicides" referred to deaths that occurred without warning wherein participants spoke to tensions between having no idea that the deceased was at risk while reflecting on what they might have done to prevent the suicide. In contrast, "rationalized suicides" detailed an array of preexisting risk factors including mental illness and/or substance overuse to discuss cause-effect scenarios. Commonalities in unforeseen and rationalized suicides are discussed in the overarching theme, "managing emotions" whereby participants distanced themselves, but also drew meaning from the suicide.
Palliative care offers patients with a serious illness and their families access to services that can improve quality of life, mood, and symptoms. However, the term palliative care is often confused with end of life or hospice services limiting its application to persons with chronic illnesses who might benefit. Non-hospice palliative care is a term that is emerging to more accurately reflect the broader care model that palliative care represents. The aim of this review was to identify the characteristics of published nonhospice palliative care interventions. We derived our sample predominantly from a recently published systematic review and meta-analysis and selected studies published since the review. Inclusion criteria were: self-described palliative care intervention studies using randomized designs for participants with lifelimiting illnesses aged 18 years or older. These 38 studies fell into 3 broad categories: primary, specialty, and hybrid models. Common challenges among these models include limited education of generalists, limited reimbursement, and limited access in certain areas. However, increasing palliative care usage has also been associated with increased hospice use and appropriate timing of referrals.
Pediatric cancer has experienced significant improvement in overall survival rates over the past several decades. Despite this progress, however, it remains the leading cause of death from disease beyond infancy in children. Among the children and adolescents that survive their cancer diagnosis, significant symptom burden and toxicities of therapy are often experienced. The evidence presented affords great insight in to the current empirical support for pediatric palliative care involvement, current utilization of palliative care services in the care of children with cancer and their families, and barriers that have been identified to date. Positive trends toward increased, appropriate integration of palliative care services in the care of children with cancer and their families have been observed. Continued research, advocacy, and education are necessary to optimize the care of this vulnerable population of patients and their families.
Metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is a leading cause of cancer deaths in developed nations. The past decade has seen the approval of numerous systemic therapies for RCC, most recently immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI). Nivolumab, an anti-programmed cell death 1 antibody, was superior to everolimus in a large phase 3 trial in clear-cell RCC (ccRCC), and is now approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for metastatic RCC after progression on prior anti-antiangiogenic therapy. The overall response rate is 25%, and there is a subset of patients who demonstrate pseudoprogression where initial tumor growth is followed by decreased tumor burden. Differentiating between progression and pseudoprogression has been chanllenging.
Herein we report the case of a patient with metastatic ccRCC with clinical deterioration and progression after 3 doses of nivolumab who went to hospice, only to come back 6 months later with less disease.
Le conflit psychique se manifeste lorsque des exigences internes contraires s'opposent comme celles des pulsions de vie et des pulsions de mort. Les soins palliatifs, tissés de contradictions, de forces qui s'affrontent et d'ambivalences multiples, ne peuvent échapper au conflit. Si leur nécessité n'est plus à démontrer, la confrontation à la détresse que la déchéance, le sentiment d'indignité et l'approche de la mort génèrent reste profondément problématique.
Background: Dyspnea is a common, very distressing symptom in advanced cancer patients that challenges them, their relatives, and healthcare professionals. This narrative review summarizes important literature dealing with the evidence for opioids, benzodiazepines, oxygen, and steroids for treating dyspnea in advanced cancer patients.
Methods: A selective literature search was undertaken in PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library and extended with literature from the reference lists of included studies up to April 2016. Inclusion criteria were that patients were suffering from advanced cancer and were receiving either opioids, benzodiazepines, corticosteroids, or oxygen. The outcome of interest was the reduction of dyspnea measured via a visual analogue scale (VAS), a numerical rating scale (NRS), or a Borg scale. This narrative review describes in detail the findings of 13 studies.
Results: Nine studies deal with the effectiveness of opioids for reducing dyspnea in advanced cancer patients. Five of these found a significant benefit to the use of opioids compared to a placebo. Three found no significant improvements, and two favored combinations of opioids and benzodiazepines. Few high-quality studies were available that used benzodiazepines (n = 3, no difference, significant improvement with midazolam + morphine, significant difference for midazolam) or oxygen (n = 2, both without significant difference). Only one study examined treating dyspnea with steroids in patients with advanced cancer, and that study indicated a benefit of steroids compared to a placebo.
Conclusions: Opioids are the drug of choice for treating refractory dyspnea in advanced cancer patients. Neither benzodiazepines nor oxygen showed significant benefit. In addition, there is insufficient literature available to draw a conclusion about the effectiveness of steroids for treating persistent dyspnea in advanced cancer patients.
Confrontés à des soins exigeants, parfois vitaux, quelle place reste-t-il pour la réflexivité et la considération de ce qui resiste en soi. La sensation d'une mise en impasse, vécue seul ou à plusieurs, peut alors traverser tous les acteurs. Dans ce contexte, un travail de conflictualité appellerait une déconstruction patiente pour chaque acteur, dans la sécurité d'un partenariat soignant-soigné et un exercice interdisciplinaire.
Que deviennent les concepts de rencontre, d'identification, d'empathie, dans le cadre des interventions des équipes mobiles de soins palliatifs auprès des soignants ? Il est intéressant d'appréhender cette dimension spécifique de la dynamique des groupes et de la transversalité, pratique du soin à part entière mais dont il est parfois difficile de rendre compte du fait qu'elle recouvre ce que l'on pourrait nommer le travail invisible, ou symbolique, psychologique des EMSP.
Par nature, le travail en équipe mobile de soins palliatifs expose à des tensions sur le plan clinique, groupal, institutionnel, mais aussi personnel. Il est important d'identifier les interactions en jeu pour clarifier le cadre de travail et ajuster sa posture professionnelle. Riche d'une réflexion continue de notre équipe, les auteurs se proposent de décrire quelques exemples des questionnements liés à cet exercice.