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From a communication perspective, the term “do not resuscitate” (DNR) is challenging to use in end-of-life discussions because it omits the goals of care. An alternative, “Allow Natural Death” (AND), has been proposed as a better way of framing this palliative care discussion.
We present a case where a nurse unsuccessfully discusses end-of-life goals of care using the term DNR. Subsequently, with the aid of a communication trainer, he is coached to successfully use the term “AND” to facilitate this discussion and advance his goal of palliative care communication and planning.
We contrast the advantages and disadvantages of the term AND from the communication training perspective and suggest that AND-framing language replace DNR as a better way to facilitate meaningful end-of-life communication. One well-designed, randomized, controlled simulation study supports this practice. We also consider the communication implications of “natural” versus “unnatural” death.
Cognitive therapy (CT) has considerable utility for psychosomatic medicine (PM) in acute medical settings but, to date, no such cohesive adaptation has been developed. Part I delineated a CT model for acute medical settings focusing on assessment and formulation. In Part II, we review how CT can be applied to common PM clinical challenges. A pragmatic approach is helpful because this review targets PM trainees and educators.
Narrative review is used to discuss the application of CT strategies to common challenges in acute medical settings. Treatment complexities and limitations associated with the PM setting are detailed. Exemplary dialogues are used to model techniques.
We present CT approaches to eight common scenarios: (1) distressed or hopeless patients; (2) patients expressing pivotal distorted cognitions/images; (3) patients who catastrophize; (4) patients who benefit from distraction and activation strategies; (5) panic and anxiety; (6) suicidal patients; (7) patients who are stuck and helpless; (8) inhibited patients. Limitations are discussed.
Significance of results:
A CT informed PM assessment, formulation and early intervention with specific techniques offers a novel integrative framework for psychotherapy with the acutely medically ill. Future efforts should focus on dissemination, education of fellows and building research efficacy data.
Although cognitive therapy (CT) has established outpatient utility, there is no integrative framework for using CT in acute medical settings where most psychosomatic medicine (P-M) clinicians practice. Biopsychosocial complexity challenges P-M clinicians who want to use CT as the a priori psychotherapeutic modality. For example, how should clinicians modify the data gathering and formulation process to support CT in acute settings?
Narrative review methodology is used to describe the framework for a CT informed interview, formulation, and assessment in acute medical settings. Because this review is aimed largely at P-M trainees and educators, exemplary dialogues model the approach (specific CT strategies for common P-M scenarios appear in the companion article.)
Structured data gathering needs to be tailored by focusing on cognitive processes informed by the cognitive hypothesis. Agenda setting, Socratic questioning, and adaptations to the mental state examination are necessary. Specific attention is paid to the CT formulation, Folkman's Cognitive Coping Model, self-report measures, data-driven evaluations, and collaboration (e.g., sharing the formulation with the patient.) Integrative CT-psychopharmacological approaches and the importance of empathy are emphasized.
Significance of results:
The value of implementing psychotherapy in parallel with data gathering because of time urgency is advocated, but this is a significant departure from usual outpatient approaches in which psychotherapy follows evaluation. This conceptual approach offers a novel integrative framework for using CT in acute medical settings, but future challenges include demonstrating clinical outcomes and training P-M clinicians so as to demonstrate fidelity.
Looming cognitive styles (LCS) bias the velocity of potential threats and have been implicated in anxiety and depression vulnerability. This study aims to explore their contribution to impaired quality of life (QOL), beyond that of depression and anxiety, in a cancer cohort.
In a cross-sectional design, an ambulatory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cohort completed a psychological battery that included the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories, the SF-36 Health Survey, the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACT), the Looming Cognitive Style Questionnaire (LCSQ), and the Looming Cancer measure.
The Looming Cancer measure correlated significtly with overall QOL (FACT-G, p = 0.005). This effect was largely due to the contribution of emotional QOL (Mental Component Score: SF-36, p = 0.001; FACT-emotional, p = 0.001) and functional QOL (FACT-functional, p = 0.001). Looming, unlike anxiety and depression, did not correlate with a worse physical QOL (Physical Component Score: SF-36, FACT-physical). Looming did not impact on social QOL. Hierarchical regression analysis showed that looming predicted 5.4% of the varience on the FACT-emotional, 5.1% on the Mental Component Score (SF-36), and 9.3% on the mental health subscale (SF-36), above and beyond the varience predicted by a constellation of psychosocial factors (including age, marital status, education, income) and the combined effect of depression and anxiety
Significance of results:
LCS predicts worse emotional and functional QOL, above and beyond the contribution of anxiety, depression, and other psycho-social variables. This suggests that it makes a unique contribution to a worse QOL. Nevertheless, the looming construct still remains primarily a research tool in psycho-oncology at this time.
To develop a communication skills training module for health care professionals about how to conduct a family meeting in palliative care and to evaluate the module in terms of participant self-efficacy and satisfaction.
Forty multispecialty health care professionals from the New York metropolitan area attended a communication skills training module at a Comprehensive Cancer Center about how to conduct a family meeting in oncology. The modular content was based on the Comskil model and current literature in the field.
Based on a retrospective pre–post measure, participants reported a significant increase in self-efficacy about their ability to conduct a family meeting. Furthermore, at least 93% of participants expressed their satisfaction with various aspects of the module by agreeing or strongly agreeing with statements on the course evaluation form.
Significance of results:
Family meetings play a significant role in the palliative care setting, where family support for planning and continuing care is vital to optimize patient care. Although these meetings can be challenging, this communication skills module is effective in increasing the confidence of participants in conducting a family meeting.
End-of-life communication is crucial because most U.S. hospitals implement cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the absence of do-not-resuscitate directives (DNRs). Despite this, there is little DNR utilization data to guide the design of communication-training programs. The objective of this study was to determine DNR utilization patterns and whether their use is increasing.
A retrospective database analysis (2000–2005) of DNR data for 206,437 patients, the entire patient population at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), was performed.
The hospital recorded, on average, 4,167 deaths/year. In 2005, 86% of inpatient deaths had a DNR, a 3% increase since 2000 (p < .01). For patients who died outside the institution (e.g., hospice), 52% had a DNR, a 24% increase over 6 years (p < .00001). Adult inpatients signed 53% of DNRs but 34% were signed by surrogates. The median time between signing and death was 0 days, that is, the day of death. Only 5.5% of inpatient deaths had previously signed an outpatient DNR. Here, the median time between signing and death was 30 days.
Significance of results:
Although DNR directives are commonly utilized and their use has increased significantly over the past 6 years, most cancer patients/surrogates sign the directives on the day of death. The proximity between signing and death may be a marker of delayed end-of-life palliative care and suboptimal doctor–patient communication. These data underscore the importance of communication-training research tailored to improve end-of-life decision making.
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