PURPOSE: The aim of this review was to examine efficacy of palliative interventional radiotherapy (IRT) in esophageal cancer compared with other treatment in terms of dysphagia-free survival (DyFS) and safety.
METHODS AND MATERIAL: A systematic research using PubMed, Scopus, and Cochrane library was performed to identify full articles evaluating the efficacy of IRT as palliation in patients with esophageal cancer. ClinicalTrials.gov was searched for ongoing or recently completed trials, and PROSPERO was searched for ongoing or recently completed systematic reviews. We analyzed only clinical study as full text of patients with symptomatic esophageal cancer treated with IRT alone or in combination with other treatment. Conference paper, survey, letter, editorial, book chapter, and review were excluded. Time restriction (1990-2018) as concerns the years of the publication was considered. The primary outcome was the duration of dysphagia relief (DyFS) after brachytherapy vs. other treatment (external-beam radiotherapy, photodynamic therapy, argon plasma coagulation, stent, and laser) during followup. Secondary outcomes included overall survival and adverse event rates.
RESULTS: The literature search resulted in 554 articles. Sixty-six articles were assessed via full text for eligibility. Of these, 59 articles were excluded for various reasons, leaving seven randomized studies. The number of evaluated patients was 905 patients, and median age was 70.5 years. In the IRT group, the median DyFS was 99 days, the most relevant G3-G4 toxicity were fistula development and stenosis reported, respectively, in 8.3% and 12.2%; the overall median survival was 175.5 days.
CONCLUSION: In conclusion, we provided evidence-based support that IRT is an effective and safe treatment option; therefore, its underuse is no longer justified.
BACKGROUND: Values clarification can assist families facing the threat of periviable delivery in navigating the complexity of competing values related to death, disability, and quality of life (QOL).
OBJECTIVE: We piloted values clarification exercises to inform resuscitation decision making and qualitatively assess perceptions of QOL.
METHODS: We conducted a mixed-method study of women with threatened periviable delivery (22 0/7-24 6/7 weeks) and their important others (IOs). Participants engaged in three values clarification activities as part of a semi-structured interview-(a) Card sorting nine conditions as an acceptable/unacceptable QOL for a child; (b) Rating/ranking seven common concerns in periviable decision making (scale 0-10, not at all to extremely important); and (c) "Agreed/disagreed" with six statements regarding end-of-life treatment, disability, and QOL. Participants were also asked to define "QOL" and describe their perceptions of a good and poor QOL for their child. Analysis was conducted using SAS version 9.4 and NVivo 12.
RESULTS: All mild disabilities were an acceptable QOL, while two-thirds of participants considered long-term mechanical ventilation unacceptable. Although pregnant women rated "Impact on Your Physical/Mental Health" (average 5.6) and IOs rated "financial Concerns" the highest (average 6.6), both groups ranked "financial Concerns" as the most important concern (median 5.0 and 6.0, respectively). Most participants agreed that "Any amount of life is better than no life at all" (pregnant women 62.1%; IOs 75.0%) and disagreed that resuscitation would cause "Too much suffering" for their child (pregnant women 71.4%; IOs 80.0%). Half were familiar with the phrase "QOL". Although the majority described a good QOL in terms of emotional well-being (eg "loved", "happy", "supported"), a poor QOL was described in terms of functionality (eg "dependent" and "confined"). Additionally, financial stability emerged as a distinctive theme when IOs discussed poor QOL.
CONCLUSION: Our study offers important insights on parental perspectives in periviable decision making and potential values clarification tools for decision support.
Background/Aims: Numerous changes can occur between the original design plans for clinical trials, the submission of funding proposals, and the implementation of the clinical trial. In the hospice setting, environmental changes can present significant obstacles, which require changes to the original plan designs, recruitment, and staffing. The purpose of the study was to share lessons and problem-solving strategies that can assist in future hospice trials.
Methods: This study uses one hospice clinical trial as an exemplar to demonstrate challenges for clinical trial research in this setting. Using preliminary data collected during the first months of a trial, the research team details the many ways their current protocol reflects changes from the originally proposed plans. Experiences are used as an exemplar to address the following questions: 1) How do research environments change between the initial submission of a funding proposal and the eventual award? 2) How can investigators maintain the integrity of the research and accommodate unexpected changes in the research environment?
Results: The changing environment within the hospice setting required design, sampling, and recruitment changes within the first year. The decision-making process resulted in a stronger design with greater generalization. As a result of necessary protocol changes, the study results are positioned to be translational following the study conclusion.
Conclusion: Researchers would do well to review their protocol and statistics early in a clinical trial. They should be prepared for adjustments to accommodate market and environmental changes outside their control. Ongoing data monitoring, specifically related to recruitment, is advised.
Context: Patients with decompensated cirrhosis have high rates of healthcare utilization at end-of-life (EOL). However, the impact of transplant candidacy on intensity of EOL care is currently unknown.
Objectives: to assess the relationship between transplant candidacy and intensity of EOL care in the last year of life in an ambulatory cohort of patients with decompensated cirrhosis.
Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of 230 patients with decompensated cirrhosis who were evaluated for liver transplantation in a large healthcare system between 1/1/2010 and 12/31/2017 and died by 6/20/2018. We compared healthcare utilization in the last year of life and EOL care outcomes between transplant-listed (n=133) and non-listed (n=97) patients. We examined predictors of palliative and hospice care utilization using multivariate logistic regression.
Results: During the last year of life, patients had a median of 3 [IQR 2-5] hospitalizations and spent a median of 31 days [IQR 16-49] in the hospital. In all, 80% of patients died in the hospital, with 70% dying in the intensive care unit. The majority (70.0%) received a life-sustaining procedure (mechanical ventilation, renal replacement therapy, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation) during their terminal hospitalization, which did not differ between transplant-listed and non-listed patients (74.4% vs. 63.9%, p=0.09). Transplant-listed patients had lower odds of receiving specialty palliative care (OR 0.43, p=0.005). Patients with hepatocellular carcinoma had higher odds of receiving hospice care (OR 2.03, p=0.049).
Conclusion: Patients with decompensated cirrhosis had intensive healthcare utilization during their last year of life regardless of transplant candidacy. Further work is needed to optimize their EOL care, particularly for patients who are ineligible for transplantation.
Background: The prognosis of an aggressive lymphoma can change dramatically following failure of first-line treatment. This sudden shift is challenging for the promotion of illness understanding and advance care planning (ACP). Yet, little is known about illness understanding and ACP in patients with aggressive lymphomas.
Objective: To examine illness understanding, rates of engagement in ACP, and reasons for lack of ACP engagement in patients with advanced B cell lymphomas.
Design: Cross-sectional observational study.
Setting/Subjects: Patients (n = 27) with aggressive B cell lymphomas that relapsed after first- or second-line treatment treated at a single urban academic medical center.
Measurements: Participants were administered structured surveys by trained staff to obtain self-report measures of illness understanding (i.e., aggressiveness, terminality, curability) and ACP (i.e., discussions of care preferences, completion of advance directives).
Results: The majority of patients reported discussing curability (92.6%), prognosis (77.8%), and treatment goals (88.9%) with their medical team. Yet, less than one-third of patients reported being terminally ill (29.6%) and having incurable disease (22.2%). Most patients had a health care proxy (81.5%) and had decided about do-not-resuscitate status (63%), but the majority had not completed a living will (65.4%) or discussed their care preferences with others (55.6%).
Conclusions: The accuracy of lymphoma patients' illness understanding following first-line treatment is difficult to determine due to the potential for cure following transplant. However, this study suggests that a large proportion of patients with advanced B cell lymphomas may underestimate the severity of their illness, despite discussing illness severity with their medical team. Providing patients with information on prognosis, and the ACP process may increase engagement in ACP.
BACKGROUND: In the last two decades, nursing authors have published ethical analyses of palliative sedation-an end-of-life care practice that also receives significant attention in the broader medical and bioethics literature. This nursing literature is important, because it contributes to disciplinary understandings about nursing values and responsibilities in end-of-life care.
RESEARCH AIM: The purpose of this project is to review existing nursing ethics literature about palliative sedation, and to analyze how nurses' moral identities are portrayed within this literature.
RESEARCH DESIGN: We reviewed discussion papers, written by nurses about the ethics of palliative sedation, which were cited in MEDLINE, CINAHL, Nursing and Allied Health, or Philosopher's Index (search date March 2018). Twenty-one papers met selection criteria. We performed a comprehensive review and analysis (using the Qualitative Analysis Guide of Leuven), of the values, responsibilities, and relationships reflected in authors' portrayal of the nursing role.
FINDINGS: Two different tones are apparent in the extant nursing ethics literature. One is educational, while the other is critically reflective. Irrespective of tone, all authors agree on the alleviation of suffering as a fundamental nursing responsibility. However, they differ in their analysis of this responsibility in relation to other values in end-of-life care, including those that depend on consciousness. Finally, authors emphasize the importance of subjective and experience-based understandings of palliative sedation, which they argue as depending on nurses' proximity to patients and families in end-of-life care.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Based on our findings, we develop three recommendations for future writing by nurses about palliative sedation. These relate to the responsibility of recognizing how consciousness might matter in (some) peoples' moral experiences of death and dying, to the importance of moral reflectiveness in nursing practice, and to the value of a relational approach in conceptualizing the nursing ethics of palliative sedation.
Purpose: To describe physician attitudes to deep palliative sedation.
Methods: A nationwide e-survey of Spanish palliative care specialists was performed using vignettes which described patients close to death with intractable symptoms. Sedation levels were defined according to the Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale. Multivariate analyses were performed to assess the explanatory factors involved in decision-making.
Results: Responses of 292 palliative care specialists were analyzed (response rate 40%). Ninety-four percent, 87%, and 81% of the respondents supported the use of palliative sedation in cases of irreversible refractory symptoms as hyperactive delirium and dyspnea at rest secondary to lung cancer and GOLD stage IV COPD; 60% agreed with the use of palliative sedation in cases of existential suffering. Logistic regression analysis found as the explanatory factor in not performing palliative sedation the physicians’ belief that sedation therapy constitutes undercover euthanasia (OR = 12, p < 0.01). Around 80% of physicians who decided on palliative sedation chose deep/complete sedation for every vignette; there were no common explanatory factors for decision-making for every vignette. The belief that sedation therapy equates to undercover euthanasia justifies not performing deep sedation in cases of irreversible refractory agitated delirium (OR = 7) and irreversible intractable dyspnea (OR = 6). Physician background in palliative care and sedation were associated with the selection of deep/complete sedation in cases of refractory delirium and cancer-associated dyspnea.
Conclusions: Spanish palliative physicians generally agree with the use of deep sedation as a proportionate treatment in dying patients with refractory symptoms. Decision-making is associated with physician beliefs regarding euthanasia and with the physician’s background in palliative care and sedation.
Background: Crises that occur in home hospice care affect family caregivers’ satisfaction with care and increase risk of disenrollment. Because hospice care focuses on achieving a peaceful death, understanding the prevalence and nature of crises that occur in this setting could help to improve end-of-life outcomes.
Objective: To ascertain the prevalence and nature of, as well as factors associated with crises in the home hospice setting as reported by family caregivers.
Design: A multiple-method approach was used. Content analysis was employed to evaluate semistructured interview responses collected from caregivers. Potential associations between crisis occurrence and caregiver and patient factors were examined.
Setting/Subjects: Family caregivers whose care recipients were discharged (dead or alive) from a nonprofit hospice organization.
Measurements: Participants were asked to identify any crisis—defined as a time of intense distress due to a physical, psychological, and/or spiritual cause—they or the patient experienced, while receiving home hospice care.
Results: Of the 183 participants, 76 (42%) experienced a perceived crisis, while receiving hospice care. Three types of crises emerged: patient signs and symptoms (n = 51, 67%), patient and/or caregiver emotional distress (n = 22, 29%), and caregiver burden (n = 10, 13%). Women were more likely than men (46% vs. 26%, p = 0.03) to report a crisis.
Conclusions: A large minority of caregivers report perceiving a crisis while their loved one was receiving home hospice care. Physical (symptoms), psychological (emotional distress) function, and caregiver burden constituted the crises reported. Further studies are needed to better understand and address these gaps in care.
Background: A decision to refrain from cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the case of cardiac arrest is recommended in terminally ill patients to avoid unnecessary suffering at time of death. The aim of this study was to describe the frequency of decisions and documentation of “do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation” (DNACPR) in two Medical Home Care Units in Stockholm. Unit A had written guidelines about how to document CPR-decisions in the medical records, including a requirement for a decision to be taken (CPR: yes/no) while Unit B had no such requirement.
Method: The medical records for all patients in palliative phase of their disease at the two Units were reviewed. Data was collected on documentation of decisions about CPR (yes/no), DNACPR-decisions and documentation regarding whether the patient or next-of-kin had been informed about the DNACPR-decision.
Results: In the two Units, 316 and 219 patients in palliative phase were identified. In Unit A 100% of the patients had a CPR-decision (yes/no) compared to 79% in Unit B (p < 0.001). There was no statistically significant difference in DNACPR-decisions between the two Units, 43 and 37%. Documentation about informing the patient regarding the decision was significantly higher in Unit A, 53% compared to 14% at Unit B (p < 0.001). Documentation about informing the next-of-kin was also significantly higher at Unit A; 42% compared to 6% at Unit B (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Less than 50% of patients in palliative phase had a decision of DNACPR in two Medical Home Care Units in Stockholm. The presence of written guidelines and a requirement for a CPR-decision did not increase the frequency of DNACPR-decisions but was associated with a higher frequency of documentation of decisions and of information given to both the patients and the next-of-kin.
BACKGROUND: While various initiatives have been taken to improve advance care planning in nursing homes, it is difficult to find enough details about interventions to allow comparison, replication and translation into practice.
OBJECTIVES: We report on the development and description of the ACP+ program, a multi-component theory-based program that aims to implement advance care planning into routine nursing home care. We aimed to 1) specify how intervention components can be delivered; 2) evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of the program; 3) describe the final program in a standardized manner.
DESIGN: To develop and model the intervention, we applied multiple study methods including a literature review, expert discussions and individual and group interviews with nursing home staff and management. We recruited participants through convenience sampling.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Management and staff (n = 17) from five nursing homes in Flanders (Belgium), a multidisciplinary expert group and a palliative care nurse-trainer.
METHODS: The work was carried out by means of 1) operationalization of key intervention components-identified as part of a previously developed theory on how advance care planning is expected to lead to its desired outcomes in nursing homes-into specific activities and materials, through expert discussions and review of existing advance care planning programs; 2) evaluation of feasibility and acceptability of the program through interviews with nursing home management and staff and expert revisions; and 3) standardized description of the final program according to the TIDieR checklist. During step 2, we used thematic analysis.
RESULTS: The original program with nine key components was expanded to include ten intervention components, 22 activities and 17 materials to support delivery into routine nursing home care. The final ACP+ program includes ongoing training and coaching, management engagement, different roles and responsibilities in organizing advance care planning, conversations, documentation and information transfer, integration of advance care planning into multidisciplinary meetings, auditing, and tailoring to the specific setting. These components are to be implemented stepwise throughout an intervention period. The program involves the entire nursing home workforce. The support of an external trainer decreases as nursing home staff become more autonomous in organizing advance care planning.
CONCLUSIONS: The multicomponent ACP+ program involves residents, family, and the different groups of people working in the nursing home. It is deemed feasible and acceptable by nursing home staff and management. The findings presented in this paper, alongside results of the subsequent randomized controlled cluster trial, can facilitate comparison, replicability and translation of the intervention into practice.
Purpose: Patients with locally advanced and metastatic esophageal cancer are usually affected by cancer-related symptoms, which worsen their performance status and quality of life. The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of short-course accelerated radiation therapy for symptomatic palliation in a low resourced setting where only a 2-dimensional radiation therapy (RT) technique was available.
Methods and Materials: A phase II trial based on Simon’s 2-stage design was planned. A total dose of 12 Gy in 4 fractions, twice per day, over 2 days, =8 hours apart, using a 2-dimensional conventional RT technique was delivered with a Cobalt 60 unit (Equinox, Best Theratronics, Ottawa, Ontario). Symptoms were graded using the International Atomic Energy Agency scoring system.
Results: A total of 17 patients were treated (male/female = 10/7; median age, 50.0 years; range, 27-78 years; histology: 6 adenocarcinomas and 11 squamous cell carcinomas; tumor site: 4 gastresophageal junction and 13 esophagus). The most frequent baseline symptoms were dysphagia or regurgitation (100%), odynophagia (76%), and chest or back pain (53%). At 1 month after RT, all patients were alive with palliative response rates (complete plus partial) for dysphagia, regurgitation, odynophagia, and chest or back pain of 76%, 82%, 69%, and 56%, respectively. No patients presented acute =G3 toxicity.
Conclusions: Short-course accelerated radiation therapy treatment, planned and delivered using a conventional 2-dimensional RT technique, was effective and well tolerated for the symptomatic palliation of locally advanced or metastatic esophageal cancer. This schedule may be useful for RT centers in developing countries to reduce treatment times, costs, and patient waiting times before treatment.
A person's body can, it seems, survive well after losing the capacity to support Lockean personhood. If our rights in our bodies are, basically, rights in our selves or persons, this seems to imply that we do not after all have a right to direct the disposition of our living remains via advance directive. Govind Persad argues that our rights over our bodies persist after the loss of our personhood; we have a right to insist that our bodies die after we are gone for much the same reason that we have a right to decide whether or not to donate organs, after our death. Persad's conclusion may be right; however, his arguments regarding body rights are insufficient. Persad's suggestion that our rights in our bodies come from a history of acting and sensing through them cannot, quite, be right, since we act and sense through tools, as well. Nor should we accept Persad's arguments, from intuitions in cases involving posthumous pregnancy, that our posthumous body rights (however acquired) are powerful enough to allow choices that will result in the death of beings that need our living remains to survive. Problems with these intuitions point to a more general concern for this sort of case-based intuitionistic method: it presupposes that what body rights we have is a matter of 'natural right', accessible to all, rather than a function of how social institutions do or should resolve conflicts about the proper way of defining our authority over our bodies.
OBJECTIVE: The goal of this review is to analyse articles on the experience of surrogates who find themselves making end-of-life decisions for a relative with a major neurocognitive disorder in a nursing home.
DESIGN: An integrative review of the literature based on Whittemore and Knafl's method.
DATA SOURCES: This review used the CINAHL, PubMed, PsycInfo, Embase and Web of Science databases. A complementary search was also conducted via citation pearl searching, and the reference lists from the selected articles were manually verified.
REVIEW METHOD: The quality of the selected articles was assessed using the Crow Critical Appraisal Tool, and the data were extracted systematically and were then organised according to Mishel's uncertainty in illness theory. The data that did not correspond to any concept of the theory were excluded at this stage. Analysis was conducted using the method put forward by Miles, Huberman and Saldaña.
RESULTS: A total of 18 articles were selected: 11 qualitative, 5 quantitative and 1 using a mixed method, as well as 1 ethical argument. The subjects arising from the analysis of the articles were the types of decisions made, the support available for the surrogates, the role and involvement of the surrogates in the process and the factors that influence the decisions.
CONCLUSION: The results of this integrative review stimulate reflection on the needs of family members involved in making decisions, as well as on the nursing practice and research. Published literature is mainly from North America, and thus, more research is needed to better understand the impact of cultural and ethnic differences in the process, which was poorly covered by the existing literature. Also, exploring nurses' involvement in supporting surrogates may eventually better equip nurses for their interventions with surrogates.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Describing the illness progression and the signification of palliative care to the resident with a NCD and their surrogate decision makers, as well as discussing end-of-life care preferences as early as possible are all nursing interventions that could potentially enhance surrogates' end-of-life decision-making process.
AIM: Advance care planning (ACP) is a strategy to align future care and treatment with preferences of patients and families. This study assesses the experiences of ACP among paediatricians caring for children with life-limiting conditions.
METHODS: Paediatricians from six Dutch university hospitals completed a survey during May to September 2017 which investigated experiences with ACP in their most recent case of a deceased child and with ACP in general.
RESULTS: A total of 207 paediatricians responded (36%). After exclusion of responses with insufficient data (n=39), 168 were analysed (29%). These included experiences with an individual case in 86%. ACP themes were discussed with parents in all cases. Topics common to many cases were diagnosis, life expectancy, care goals, the parent's fears, and code status. ACP conversations occurred with children in 23% of cases. The joy in living was the most frequent topic. The frequency of ACP conversations was insufficient according to 49% of the respondents. In 60% it was stated that ACP has to result in a documented code status.
CONCLUSION: Paediatricians reported having ACP conversations mainly with parents focusing on medical issues. There was limited insight into the child's preferences for care and treatment.
BACKGROUND: There is increasing demand for primary care practitioners to play a key role in palliative care delivery. Given this, it is important to understand their perceptions of the barriers and enablers to optimal palliative care, and how commonly these are experienced.
AIM: To explore the type and prevalence of barriers and enablers to palliative care provision reported by primary care practitioners.
DESIGN: A systematic review of quantitative data-based articles was conducted.
DATA SOURCES: Medline, Embase and PsychINFO databases were searched for articles published between January 2007 and March 2019.
DATA SYNTHESIS: Abstracts were assessed against the eligibility criteria by one reviewer and a random sample of 80 articles were blind coded by a second author. Data were extracted from eligible full-texts by one author and checked by a second. Given the heterogeneity in the included studies' methods and outcomes, a narrative synthesis was undertaken.
RESULTS: Twenty-one studies met the inclusion criteria. The most common barriers related to bureaucratic procedures, communication between healthcare professionals, primary care practitioners' personal commitments, and their skills or confidence. The most common enablers related to education, nurses and trained respite staff to assist with care delivery, better communication between professionals, and templates to facilitate referral to out-of-hours services.
CONCLUSION: A holistic approach addressing the range of barriers reported in this review is needed to support primary care providers to deliver palliative care. This includes better training and addressing barriers related to the interface between healthcare services.
Heart failure (HF) is a progressive condition with high mortality and heavy symptom burden. Despite guideline recommendations, cardiologists refer to palliative care at rates much lower than other specialties and very late in the course of the disease, often in the final 3 days of life. One reason for delayed referral is that prognostication is challenging in patients with HF, making it unclear when and how the limited resources of specialist palliative care will be most beneficial. It might be more prudent to consider palliative care referrals at critical moments in the trajectory of patients with HF. These include: a) the development of poor prognostic signs in the outpatient setting; b) hospitalization or intensive care unit admission, and c) at the time of evaluation for certain procedures, such as left ventricular assist device placement and ablation for refractory ventricular arrhythmias, among others. In this review, we also summarize the results of clinical trials evaluating palliative interventions in these settings.
Background: Data about the use and effectiveness of targeted therapy in metastatic small bowel adenocarcinoma (SBA) are scarce.
Objective: The aim of this population-based study was to obtain insights into the use and effectiveness of targeted therapy in patients with synchronous metastases of SBA.
Patients and methods: Data were retrieved from the Netherlands Cancer Registry. Patients treated with palliative chemotherapy and/or targeted therapy for synchronous metastatic SBA between 2007 and 2016 were included (n = 187). Differences in treatment and the subsequent effects on overall survival (OS) were evaluated.
Results: In first-line treatment, 25 patients (13%) received additional targeted therapy, exclusively bevacizumab, and mostly in combination with CAPOX/FOLFOX (n = 24). A primary ileal tumour was predictive for receiving bevacizumab in first-line treatment (odds ratio 3.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06–9.93). Median OS for patients in whom bevacizumab was added to first-line chemotherapy was 9.3 months, compared to 9.1 months with chemotherapy only (p = 0.85). Median OS for patients receiving first-line treatment only was 8.5 months with and 6.4 months without the addition of bevacizumab, respectively (p = 0.54). In multivariable survival analyses, the addition of bevacizumab was no prognostic factor (hazard ratio 1.01, 95% CI 0.65–1.59).
Conclusions: Bevacizumab was the only prescribed targeted therapy in first-line treatment. Considering the limited number of patients receiving first-line bevacizumab and the unknown reasons to prescribe additional targeted therapy, the corresponding survival rates of patients treated with and without additional bevacizumab in first-line treatment might suggest a limited clinical effect of bevacizumab in addition to first-line palliative chemotherapy on OS. Future research should focus on identifying the subgroup of patients who might benefit from anti-VEGF therapy in metastatic SBA.
Background: In 2014, the province of Alberta launched a campaign to promote public awareness of advance care planning (ACP) and its associated two-part documentation-a Goals of care designation (GCD, a medical order written by a health care practitioner detailing wishes for care) and a personal directive (PD, a document naming a surrogate decision maker). Notably, unlike the GCD, the PD can be self-initiated independent of a health practitioner.
Objective: Two years after the campaign, we aimed to assess knowledge and recall of participation in ACP among cirrhosis patients.
Design/Setting: Consecutive adult cirrhosis patients attending one of two specialty cirrhosis clinics in Edmonton, Alberta, were surveyed.
Results: Ninety-seven patients were included. Mean model for end-stage liver disease was 12. Although 97% of patients indicated it was extremely important to know the reality of their illness, only 53% understood that cirrhosis would affect their future quality of life. Thirty-three percent of patients had completed a PD and 14% had completed a GCD. Seventy-eight percent of patients believed a GCD was important to them and 85% preferred to complete it in an outpatient clinic setting. Only a minority of patients who had taken the initiative to complete a PD in the community also had a GCD.
Conclusions: Despite efforts to raise awareness of and educate Albertans about ACP, <20% of cirrhosis patients have a completed GCD. Additional strategic prioritization is required in both patients and providers to ensure that health practitioner-facilitated ACP is carried out as standard-of-care in all patients with cirrhosis.
BACKGROUND: The distress of patients suffering from a terminal illness can lead to a state of despair and requests for euthanasia and assisted suicide. It is a major challenge for palliative care workers. The Distress Thermometer (DT) is recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network as a means of more easily assessing distress. It is available as a Self-assessment reported Distress Thermometer, but for a wider use in palliative care it should also be implemented in the form of a clinician-reported outcome (clinRO). Clinicians need to rate patient's distress when the patient is not able to do so (subject that cannot be addressed, defensive patient…). The primary aim of the quantitative study was to assess the validity of the Clinician-Rated Distress Thermometer in palliative care.
METHOD: The assessments were performed by teams working in three palliative care centres. The primary endpoint was concordance between the patient and clinicians’ responses via Lin’s concordance coefficient. Eligible patients were aged 18 years or older, suffering from a severe disease in the palliative phase, and with a sufficient level of awareness to consent to participate in the study. A total of 51 patients were recruited, 55% were male, with a mean age of 65.8 years [39–90 years].
RESULTS: Three hundred sixty-four clinician-Rated Distress Thermometer and 467 Self-Reported Distress Thermometer were performed. Only 364 of the 467 Self-Reported Distress Thermometer were used for the study, as investigators did not systematically ask the patient to give an account of his distress. Concordance between patient and clinician responses: The Lin's concordance coefficient with a threshold (alpha) of 5% was 0.46 [0.38; 0.54]. At the first assessment, it was 0.61 [0.44; 0.79]. The Cohen's kappa coefficient was 0.52, with a concordance rate of 79.6%. The sensitivity was 82.9% [66.4-93.4] and the specificity 71.4% [41.9-91.6].
CONCLUSION: The first assessment gave the best results in terms of concordance between Clinician-Rated DT and Self-Reported DT. In the next assessments, the Clinician-Rated DT were less consistent with the patients' Self-Reported DT.
BACKGROUND: Patients with cancer often require acute hospitalizations, many of which are unplanned. These hospitalizations have been shown to increase in frequency near the end of life. The American College of Physicians recommends that goals-of-care (GOC) discussions be initiated early for metastatic cancers. We hypothesized that discussing GOC during hospitalization could help reduce readmissions. Our aim was to examine the association between the timing of GOC discussion, length of hospital stay, and the time to readmission.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective review of medical records of patients with stage IV cancers hospitalized between August 2017 and July 2018. We recorded timing of GOC discussion, use of palliative care services, and hospital readmissions within 90 days. 2 tests were used to identify independent associations with GOC discussion, and logistic regression was used to examine association with readmission within 90 days.
RESULTS: Of all study patients (N = 241), 40.6% were female, 46% (n = 112) had a GOC discussion, and 34% (n = 82) had a palliative care consultation. Having a palliative care consult and being admitted to critical care were independently associated with having a GOC discussion. Early timing of GOC discussion was inversely associated with admission to critical care units (P < .05). Thirty-eight percent (n = 92) had unplanned hospital readmission within 90 days. Having a GOC discussion was independently associated with a reduction in the odds of an unplanned hospital readmission within 90 days by 79% (odds ratio = 0.21, 95% confidence interval: 0.12-0.37).
CONCLUSION: Among hospitalized patients with stage IV cancer, performing an early GOC discussion has an important association with lower hospital readmission rates and increased rates of goal-congruent patient care.