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As referrals to specialist palliative care (PC) grow in volume and diversity, an evidence-based triage method is needed to enable services to manage waiting lists in a transparent, efficient, and equitable manner. Discrete choice experiments (DCEs) have not to date been used among PC clinicians, but may serve as a rigorous and efficient method to explore and inform the complex decision-making involved in PC triage. This article presents the protocol for a novel application of an international DCE as part of a mixed-method research program, ultimately aiming to develop a clinical decision-making tool for PC triage.
Five stages of protocol development were undertaken: (1) identification of attributes of interest; (2) creation and (3) execution of a pilot DCE; and (4) refinement and (5) planned execution of the final DCE.
Six attributes of interest to PC triage were identified and included in a DCE that was piloted with 10 palliative care practitioners. The pilot was found to be feasible, with an acceptable cognitive burden, but refinements were made, including the creation of an additional attribute to allow independent analysis of concepts involved. Strategies for recruitment, data collection, analysis, and modeling were confirmed for the final planned DCE.
Significance of results
This DCE protocol serves as an example of how the sophisticated DCE methodology can be applied to health services research in PC. Discussion of key elements that improved the utility, integrity, and feasibility of the DCE provide valuable insights.
The experience of caregiving in the context of motor neurone disease (MND) is extremely challenging. Over the past 15 years, quantitative and qualitative studies have delineated the psychosocial aspects of this experience, exploring its impact on caregivers' quality of life, rates of depression, distress, anxiety, and burden. Our paper aimed to provide an overview of the lived experience of MND caregivers, identifying the variables that can influence MND caregiver functioning that are relevant to the development of an intervention.
A narrative review was conducted, synthesizing the findings of literature retrieved from 2000 to early 2016.
A total of 37 articles were included in the review. The articles varied considerably in terms of methodology and quality. The main influential aspects reported and identified were factors pertaining to the patient, factors intrinsic to the caregiver, relationship factors, and social support factors.
Significance of Results:
There is evidence to support the fact that caregivers have poorer outcomes when they care for patients with a more severe clinical profile, poorer emotional health or neurobehavioral concerns, or when the caregivers themselves struggle with adaptive problem-solving and coping skills. The availability and use of social support are also likely to be important for caregiver psychosocial outcomes. Further investigation is required to clarify the influence of changes in the relationship with the patient. Significant factors affecting the caregiver experience are considered in relation to their amenability to psychosocial intervention. Recommendations are made regarding the optimal features of future psychosocial intervention research.
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