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End-of-life dreams and visions (ELDVs) have been reported throughout history. We aimed to synthesize the research literature on ELDVs to determine the proportions of patients, bereaved families, healthcare professionals, and volunteers reporting ELDVs; ELDV content, timing, and interpretation; and any evidence-based approaches to ELDV-related care.
A systematic review protocol was registered with PROSPERO (CRD4021282929). CINAHL, Medline, Embase, Emcare, and APA PsycInfo were searched for peer-reviewed English language articles reporting qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods studies that explored reports of ELDVs by patients, bereaved families, healthcare professionals, or volunteers. Synthesis used both meta-analysis and a narrative approach.
Of 2,045 papers identified by searches, 22 were included, describing 18 studies in a variety of settings. Meta-analyses indicated that 77% (95% confidence intervals [CIs] 69–84%) of patients (n = 119) reported an ELDV compared with 32% (95% CIs 21–44%) of bereaved relatives (n = 2,444) and that 80% (95% CIs 59–94%) of healthcare professionals (n = 171) reported either witnessing or being told of an ELDV in the preceding 5 years. Studies of volunteers reported 34% (95% CIs 20–48%) (n = 45) either witnessing or being told of an ELDV over their entire period of service, with 49% of volunteers (95% CIs 33–64%) (n = 39) reporting events occurring in the preceding year. ELDVs reported by patients, bereaved families, healthcare professionals, and volunteers were perceived as being a source of comfort. Healthcare professionals and volunteers expressed a need for further education on how to support patients experiencing ELDVs and their families.
Significance of results
ELDVs are experienced by the majority of dying patients and need consideration in delivering holistic end-of-life care. Little if any research has been conducted in acute care facilities.
Studies identified barriers of pain reporting and use of analgesics impeding Chinese cancer patients to achieve optimal pain relief. No research has yet explored these issues in Chinese migrants, where cultural differences may exacerbate the barriers.
To explore cultural factors influencing Chinese migrants’ perspectives to cancer pain and its pharmacological management.
Informed by Leininger's Cultural Care Theory, focus groups and a short version of Barrier Questionnaire-Taiwan (S-BQT) were conducted in Mandarin or Cantonese, with 24 Chinese migrants receiving ambulatory cancer and/or palliative care services in Sydney, Australia. Integrated thematic analysis, descriptive statistics, and meta-inference were adopted for data analysis and integration.
Participants suffered uncontrolled cancer pain negatively affecting their physical and psychosocial well-being. Most experienced moderate to severe pain, but only a third used opioids. Most adopted non-pharmacological approaches and half used Traditional Chinese Medicine. Participants scored a mean S-BQT of 3.28 (standard deviation ± 0.89). Three themes and seven sub-themes contributed to higher barriers of pharmacological pain management: (1) Philosophical health beliefs (cancer pain are self-provoked and body can self-heal); (2) Cultural values and beliefs (cancer pain is inevitable, and Chinese people express pain differently to local people); and (3) Conflicting views on the use of opioids (culture-related negative medication beliefs, Western biomedical model-related opioid fears, and opioids extend life for people with terminal cancer pain).
Chinese migrants’ responses to cancer pain and attitudes towards opioids are complex. Culturally congruent strategies are needed to overcome culture-related barriers and improve quality of cancer pain care in this population.
Advance care planning (ACP) is identified as being an important process for people with dementia. However, its efficacy for improving outcomes relevant for the individual, carers and the health system has yet to be established.
We conducted a systematic review with the aims of testing the efficacy of ACP for people with dementia and describing the settings and population in which it has been evaluated.
A search was completed of electronic databases in August 2016. Articles were included if they described interventions aimed at increasing planning for future care of people with dementia, delivered to the person with dementia, their carers and/or health professionals.
Of 4,772 articles returned by searches, 30 met the inclusion criteria, testing interventions in nursing home (n= 16) community (n = 10) and acute care (n = 4) settings. Only 18 interventions directly involved the person with dementia, with the remainder focusing on surrogate decision-makers. In all settings, interventions were found effective in increasing ACP practice. In nursing homes, ACP was found to influence care and increase the concordance between end of life wishes and care provided. Interventions in the community were found to improve patient quality of life but were not shown to influence concordance.
Future research should focus on ways to involve people with dementia in decision-making through supported means.
The majority of self-management interventions are designed with a narrow focus on patient skills and fail to consider their potential as “catalysts” for improving care delivery. A project was undertaken to develop a patient self-management resource to support evidence-based, person-centered care for cancer pain and overcome barriers at the levels of the patient, provider, and health system.
The project used a mixed-method design with concurrent triangulation, including the following: a national online survey of current practice; two systematic reviews of cancer pain needs and education; a desktop review of online patient pain diaries and other related resources; consultation with stakeholders; and interviews with patients regarding acceptability and usefulness of a draft resource.
Findings suggested that an optimal self-management resource should encourage pain reporting, build patients’ sense of control, and support communication with providers and coordination between services. Each of these characteristics was identified as important in overcoming established barriers to cancer pain care. A pain self-management resource was developed to include: (1) a template for setting specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals of care, as well as identifying potential obstacles and ways to overcome these; and (2) a pain management plan detailing exacerbating and alleviating factors, current strategies for management, and contacts for support.
Significance of results
Self-management resources have the potential for addressing barriers not only at the patient level, but also at provider and health system levels. A cluster randomized controlled trial is under way to test effectiveness of the resource designed in this project in combination with pain screening, audit and feedback, and provider education. More research of this kind is needed to understand how interventions at different levels can be optimally combined to overcome barriers and improve care.
More than half of all cancer patients experience unrelieved pain. Culture can significantly affect patients’ cancer pain-related beliefs and behaviors. Little is known about cultural impact on Chinese cancer patients’ pain management. The objective of this review was to describe pain management experiences of cancer patients from Chinese backgrounds and to identify barriers affecting their pain management.
A systematic review was conducted adhering to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Studies were included if they reported pain management experiences of adult cancer patients from Chinese backgrounds. Five databases were searched for peer-reviewed articles published in English or Chinese journals between1990 and 2015. The quality of included studies was assessed using Joanna Briggs Institution's appraisal tools.
Of 3,904 identified records, 23 articles met criteria and provided primary data from 6,110 patients. Suboptimal analgesic use, delays in receiving treatment, reluctance to report pain, and/or poor adherence to prescribed analgesics contributed to the patients’ inadequate pain control. Patient-related barriers included fatalism, desire to be good, low pain control belief, pain endurance beliefs, and negative effect beliefs. Patients and family shared barriers about fear of addiction and concerns on analgesic side effects and disease progression. Health professional–related barriers were poor communication, ineffective management of pain, and analgesic side effects. Healthcare system–related barriers included limited access to analgesics and/or after hour pain services and lack of health insurance.
Significance of results
Chinese cancer patients’ misconceptions regarding pain and analgesics may present as the main barriers to optimal pain relief. Findings of this review may inform health interventions to improve cancer pain management outcomes for patients from Chinese backgrounds. Future studies on patients’ nonpharmacology intervention-related experiences are required to inform multidisciplinary and biopsychosocial approaches for culturally appropriate pain management.
The working ages (25–65 years) are a period when most people have significant work, financial, and family responsibilities. A small proportion of working age people will face an expected premature death from cancer or other life-limiting illness. Understanding the impact an expected premature death has on this population is important for informing support. The current study set out to summarize research describing the effects that facing an expected premature death has on employment, financial, and lifestyle of working age people and their families.
A systematic review using narrative synthesis approach. Four electronic databases were searched in July 2016 for peer-reviewed, English language studies focusing on the financial, employment, and lifestyle concerns of working age adults living with an advanced life-limiting illness and/or their carers and/or children.
Fifteen quantitative and 12 qualitative studies were included. Two-thirds (n = 18) were focused on cancer. All studies identified adverse effects on workforce participation, finances, and lifestyle. Many patients were forced to work less or give up work/retire early because of symptoms and reduced functioning. In addition to treatment costs, patients and families were also faced with child care, travel, and home/car modification costs. Being younger was associated with greater employment and financial burden, whereas having children was associated with lower functional well-being. Changes in family roles were identified as challenging regardless of diagnosis, whereas maintaining normalcy and creating stability was seen as a priority by parents with advanced cancer. This review is limited by the smaller number of studies focussing on the needs of working age people with nonmalignant disease.
Significance of results:
Working age people facing an expected premature death and their families have significant unmet financial, employment, and lifestyle needs. Comparing and contrasting their severity, timing, and priority for people with nonmalignant conditions is required to better understand their unique needs.
Palliative care for nursing home residents with advanced dementia is often sub-optimal due to poor communication and limited care planning. In a cluster randomized controlled trial, registered nurses (RNs) from 10 nursing homes were trained and funded to work as Palliative Care Planning Coordinators (PCPCs) to organize family case conferences and mentor staff. This qualitative sub-study aimed to explore PCPC and health professional perceptions of the benefits of facilitated case conferencing and identify factors influencing implementation.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the RNs in the PCPC role, other members of nursing home staff, and physicians who participated in case conferences. Analysis was conducted by two researchers using a thematic framework approach.
Interviews were conducted with 11 PCPCs, 18 other nurses, eight allied health workers, and three physicians. Perceived benefits of facilitated case conferencing included better communication between staff and families, greater multi-disciplinary involvement in case conferences and care planning, and improved staff attitudes and capabilities for dementia palliative care. Key factors influencing implementation included: staffing levels and time; support from management, staff and physicians; and positive family feedback.
The facilitated approach explored in this study addressed known barriers to case conferencing. However, current business models in the sector make it difficult for case conferencing to receive the required levels of nursing qualification, training, and time. A collaborative nursing home culture and ongoing relationships with health professionals are also prerequisites for success. Further studies should document resident and family perceptions to harness consumer advocacy.
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