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This study aims to explore seriously ill patients’ experiences during goals-of-care discussions and perspectives of end-of-life (EOL) decision-making in the Middle Eastern country of Jordan.
This is a qualitative descriptive study with semi-structured, one-on-one interviews. Settings were 2 large hospitals in Jordan. Patients were a purposeful sample of 14 Arabic-speaking adults who were seriously ill and hospitalized with palliative care needs.
Conventional content analysis identified 4 main themes: perceived suffering during serious illness, attitudes toward discussing EOL decision-making, goals of care and preferences for EOL, and actions to enhance EOL decision-making. Disease and treatment burdens and concerns about life, family, and death were sources of suffering during serious illness. What matters most to patients at EOL were alleviating suffering and getting support from family, friends, and care providers. Although patients expressed reluctance and inaction toward EOL decision-making due to uncertainties, lacking awareness, and assumptions of fear, their potential goals of care were to live longer, be with their families, and die with dignity.
Significance of results
Jordanians and culturally similar Arabs could benefit from goals-of-care discussions. The proper, culturally sensitive implementation of goals-of-care discussions in Arab populations with similar cultural norms requires raising public awareness and clarifying the legitimacy of goals-of-care discussions, preparing patients and their families for the discussions, and considering individual variations in handling the discussions.
The findings from several studies suggest that palliative care patients with advanced cancer experience multiple symptoms, and that these symptoms may be related to demographic and clinical factors as well as to patient outcomes. However, no systematic review has summarized the findings from studies that assessed multiple symptoms, predictors, and outcomes in these patients. The purposes of this review, focused on palliative care patients with advanced cancer, are to: 1) describe the relationships among multiple symptoms; 2) describe the predictors of multiple symptoms; and 3) describe the relationships between multiple symptoms and patient outcomes.
Comprehensive literature searches were completed using the following databases: PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and PsychInfo. The key words: cancer or advanced cancer or neoplasm, AND palliative care or terminal care or hospice or end-of-life, AND symptoms or multiple symptoms or symptom clusters were combined.
Twenty-two studies met the inclusion criteria and examined at least one of our purposes. The majority of these studies were descriptive and used one of four common symptom assessment scales. Fifty-six different signs and symptoms were evaluated across various dimensions (i.e., prevalence, severity, distress, frequency, control). Pain, dyspnea, and nausea were the only symptoms measured in all 22 studies. Relationships among concurrent symptoms were examined in nine studies. Relationships among symptoms and predictors (i.e., demographics, cancer type, healthcare delivery environment) were examined in seven studies. Relationships among symptoms and outcomes (i.e., functional status, psychological status, quality-of-life, survival time) were examined in 14 studies. Significant methodological variation was found among these studies.
Significance of results:
It is difficult to draw conclusions about the relationships among multiple symptoms, predictors, and outcomes due to the heterogeneity of these studies. Future research is needed to determine which symptoms and symptom dimensions to assess in order to better understand how multiple symptoms relate to each other as well to as predictors and outcomes in palliative care patients with advanced cancer.
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