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Spirituality is what gives people meaning and purpose in life, and it has been recognized as a critical factor in patients’ well-being, particularly at the ends of their lives. Studies have demonstrated relationships between spirituality and patient-reported outcomes such as quality of life and mental health. Although a number of studies have suggested that spiritual belief can be associated with mortality, the results are inconsistent. We aimed to determine whether spirituality was related to survival in advanced cancer inpatients in Korea.
For this multicenter study, we recruited adult advanced cancer inpatients who had been admitted to seven palliative care units with estimated survival of <3 months. We measured spirituality at admission using the Korean version of the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being (FACIT-sp), which comprises two subscales: meaning/peace and faith. We calculated a Kaplan-Meier curve for spirituality, dichotomized at the predefined cutoffs and medians for the total scale and each of the two subscales, and performed univariate regression with a Cox proportional hazard model.
We enrolled a total of 204 adults (mean age: 64.5 ± 13.0; 48.5% female) in the study. The most common primary cancer diagnoses were lung (21.6%), colorectal (18.6%), and liver/biliary tract (13.0%). Median survival was 19.5 days (95% confidence interval [CI95%]: 23.5, 30.6). Total FACIT-sp score was not related to survival time (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.981, CI95% = 0.957, 1.007), and neither were the scores for its two subscales, meaning/peace (HR = 0.969, CI95% = 0.932, 1.008) and faith (HR = 0.981, CI95% = 0.938, 1.026).
Significance of results
Spirituality was not related to survival in advanced cancer inpatients in Korea. Plausible mechanisms merit further investigation.
Several factors associated with referral time to hospice and/or palliative care services have been identified, but there is no literature on the association between these services and the emotional status of the family caregivers (FCs). This article is intended to address that issue.
A semistructured interview was employed to collect data for a retrospective cohort study. The primary FCs of terminally ill cancer patients were interviewed at the time of the patient's referral to the palliative care unit. Interview data were combined with patients' medical record data for our analysis. The emotional status of the FCs was categorized into one of three groups according to their responses to the anticipated death of their family member: acceptance, anxious/depressed, and denial/angry. A Cox proportional hazard model was used to examine and identify the factors related to the length of stay (LOS) in the palliative care unit.
A total of 198 patient–FC pairs were identified. The median LOS was 18 days. A multivariate analysis with adjustment for potential variables revealed significant differences in LOS according to cancer type and time since cancer diagnosis. The denial/angry FC category was independently associated with a shorter LOS (vs. acceptance, adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 2.11; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11–4.03).
Significance of Results:
We found that terminally ill cancer patients who were referred late had FCs who were in denial or were angry about the anticipated death of their loved one. The emotional status of FCs should be considered when patients with terminal cancer are referred to palliative care.
There is scarce research on the short-term fluctuations in end-of-life (EoL) care planning for seriously ill patients. The aim of our study was to investigate the stability of preferences regarding treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU) and identify the factors associated with changes in preferences in terms of quality of life (QoL).
A prospective examination on preference changes for ICU care in 141 terminal cancer patients was conducted. Patients were categorized according to their change in preference during the final two months of their lives into four categories: (1) the keep–accept group, (2) the keep–reject group, (3) the change to accept group, and (4) the change to reject group. Using multiple logistic analyses, we explored the association between patient demographics, health-related QoL, and changes in ICU preference.
The overall stability of ICU preferences near the end of life was 66.7% (κ = 0.33, p < 0.001). Married patients were more likely to change their preference regarding ICU care [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) toward accept 12.35, p = 0.021; aOR toward reject 10.56, p = 0.020] than unmarried patients. Patients with stable physical function tended to accept ICU care (aOR = 5.05, p = 0.023), whereas those with poor performance (aOR = 5.32, p = 0.018), worsened QoL (aOR = 8.34, p = 0.007), or non-aggravated fatigue (aOR = 8.36, p = 0.006) were more likely to not accept ICU care.
Significance of results:
The attitudes of terminally ill cancer patients regarding ICU care at the end of life were not stable over time, and changes in their QoL were associated with a tendency to change their preferences about ICU care. Attention should thus be paid to patients' QoL changes to improve medical decision making with regard to EoL care.
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