The prevalence of constipation among patients in palliative care has varied in prior research, from 18% to 90%, depending on study factors.
The aim of this study was to describe and explore the prevalence and symptom distress of constipation, using different definitions of constipation, in patients admitted to specialized palliative care settings.
Data was collected in a cross-sectional survey from 485 patients in 38 palliative care units in Sweden. Variables were analyzed using logistic regression and summarized as odds ratio (OR).
The prevalence of constipation varied between 7% and 43%, depending on the definition used. Two constipation groups were found: (1) medical constipation group (MCG): =3 defecations/week, n=114 (23%) and (2) perceived constipation group (PCG): patients with a perception of being constipated in the last two weeks, n=171 (35%). Three subgroups emerged: patients with (1) only medical constipation (7%), (2) only perceived constipation (19%), and (3) both medical and perceived constipation (16%). There were no differences in symptom severity between groups; 71% of all constipated patients had severe constipation.
The prevalence of constipation may differ, depending on the definition used and how constipation is assessed. In this study we found two main groups and three subgroups, analyzed from the definitions of frequency of bowel movements and experience of being constipated. To be able to identify constipation, the patients' definition has to be further explored and assessed.
In Sweden, individuals affected by severe stroke are treated in specialized stroke units. In these units, patients are attended by a multiprofessional team with a focus on care in the acute phase of stroke, rehabilitation phase, and palliative phase. Caring for patients with such a large variety in condition and symptoms might be an extra challenge for the team. Today, there is a lack of knowledge in team experiences of the dilemmas that appear and the consequences that emerge. Therefore, the purpose of this article was to study ethical dilemmas, different approaches, and what consequences they had among healthcare professionals working with the dying patients with stroke in acute stroke units. Forty-one healthcare professionals working in a stroke team were interviewed either in focus groups or individually. The data were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using content analysis. The ethical dilemmas that appeared were depending on "nondecisions" about palliative care or discontinuation of treatments. The lack of decision made the team members act based on their own individual skills, because of the absence of common communication tools. When a decision was made, the healthcare professionals had "problems holding to the decision." The devised and applied plans could be revalued, which was described as a setback to nondecisions again. The underlying problem and theme was "communication barriers," a consequence related to the absence of common skills and consensus among the value system. This study highlights the importance of palliative care knowledge and skills, even for patients experiencing severe stroke. To make a decision and to hold on to that is a presupposition in creating a credible care plan. However, implementing a common set of values based on palliative care with symptom control and quality of life might minimize the risk of the communication barrier that may arise and increases the ability to create a healthcare that is meaningful and dignified.
To date there has been a paucity of research examining whether a course in palliative care influences the clinical work. Therefore a half-day course was started for different professionals.
The aims of this study were to quantitatively and qualitatively explore professionals' experience of the usefulness and importance of such a course.
An evaluation study was used with two measurement points in the quantitative part; qualitative focus group interviews were conducted three times.
Data was collected in Sweden through structured and open-ended questions (n=355) and in focus group discussions (n=40).
The majority of participants were allied professionals (86%). Course evaluation immediately after the intervention showed high scores. At three months, 78% of the 86 participants who had cared for a dying patient since the course claimed that the course had been useful in their work. In addition, there were improvements regarding symptom management (37%), support to family members (36%), more frequent break point conversations (31%), and improved cooperation in the teams (26%). The qualitative analysis showed that the course made participants start to compare their own working experiences with the new knowledge. When returning to work, the participants feel strengthened by the the newly acquired knowledge, but the will to improve the care also led to frustration, as some of the participants described that they wanted to change routines in the care of the dying, but felt hindered.
The course was appreciated and useful in the professionals' work, but it also created problems.
Deliberations on euthanasia are mostly theoretical, and often lack first-hand perspectives of the affected persons.
Sixty-six patients suffering from cancer in a palliative phase were interviewed about their perspectives of euthanasia in relation to autonomy. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using qualitative content analysis with no predetermined categories.
The informants expressed different positions on euthanasia, ranging from support to opposition, but the majority were undecided due to the complexity of the problem. The informants' perspectives on euthanasia in relation to autonomy focused on decision making, being affected by (1) power and (2) trust. Legalization of euthanasia was perceived as either (a) increasing patient autonomy by patient empowerment, or (b) decreasing patient autonomy by increasing the medical power of the health care staff, which could be frightening. The informants experienced dependence on others, and expressed various levels of trust in others' intentions, ranging from full trust to complete mistrust.
Dying cancer patients perceive that they cannot feel completely independent, which affects true autonomous decision making. Further, when considering legalization of euthanasia, the perspectives of patients fearing the effects of legalization should also be taken into account, not only those of patients opting for it.
GOALS: (1). To describe what aspects are important when next-of-kin evaluate advanced palliative home care (APHC) and (2). to compare the expressed aspects and describe eventual differences among the three settings, which differed in terms of length of services, geographic location, and population size. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Four to 7 months after the patient's death (87% from cancer), 217 consecutive next-of-kin from three different settings in Sweden responded (response rate 86%) to three open-ended questions via a postal questionnaire. Qualitative content analysis was performed. MAIN RESULTS: Service aspects and comfort emerged as main categories. The staff's competence, attitude and communication, accessibility, and spectrum of services were valued service aspects. Comfort, such as feeling secure, was another important aspect and it concerned the next-of-kin themselves, the patients, and the families. Additionally, comfort was related to interactional issues such as being in the center and sharing caring with the staff. The actual place of care (i.e., being at home) added to the perceived comfort. Of the respondents, 87% described positive aspects of APHC and 28% negative aspects. No major differences were found among the different settings. CONCLUSIONS: Next-of-kin incorporate service aspects and aspects relating to the patient's and family's comfort when evaluating APHC. The importance of these aspects is discussed in relation to the content of palliative care and potential goals.
Although previous research has indicated some recurrent themes and similarities between what patients from different cultures regard as a good death, the concept is complex and there is lack of studies from the Nordic countries. The aim of this study was to explore the perception of a good death in dying cancer patients in Sweden.
Interviews were conducted with 66 adult patients with cancer in the palliative phase who were recruited from home care and hospital care. Interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis.
Participants viewed death as a process. A good death was associated with living with the prospect of imminent death, preparing for death and dying comfortably, e.g., dying quickly, with independence, with minimised suffering and with social relations intact. Some were comforted by their belief that death is predetermined. Others felt uneasy as they considered death an end to existence. Past experiences of the death of others influenced participants' views of a good death.
Healthcare staff caring for palliative patients should consider asking them to describe what they consider a good death in order to identify goals for care. Exploring patients' personal experience of death and dying can help address their fears as death approaches.
Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Linköping University, LAH/Unit of Palliative Care, University Hospital, Linköping, and Palliative Education and Research Centre in the County of Östergötland, Östergötland, Sweden. firstname.lastname@example.org
Resilience in relation to coping with stress, loss, and bereavement has recently received increased attention. The aim of the current study was to describe aspects that are experienced as a protection against powerlessness and/or helplessness during advanced palliative home care (APHC) or as a help when coping with such perceptions.
Both family members during ongoing APHC and family members 3-9 months after the patient's death responded (in total, N = 233; response rate 72%) to a postal questionnaire with mainly open-ended questions. The text responses were analyzed using Manifest Content Analysis.
Protection against powerlessness and helplessness had been facilitated by a stable patient condition, the patient coping well, a trusting relationship with the patient, practical and emotional support from family and friends, access to palliative expertise, and staff support that was both individually-focused and cooperative. Other aspects that had helped or protected family members against powerlessness and helplessness were a belief that they had their own reliable knowledge to manage the difficult situation, talking to someone, doing good for the patient, distracting activities, acceptance, meaning and hope, and an inner feeling of security.
The findings are discussed in relation to existential psychology, the dual process model of coping with bereavement, and repressive coping. Clinical implications are suggested.
Although stroke is a significant public health challenge and the need for palliative care has been emphasized for these patients, there is limited data on end-of-life care for patients dying from stroke.
To study the end-of-life care during the last week of life for patients who had died of stroke in terms of registered symptom, symptom management, and communication, in comparison with patients who had died of cancer.
This study is a retrospective, comparative registry study.
A retrospective comparative registry study was performed using data from a Swedish national quality register for end-of-life care based on WHO`s definition of Palliative care. Data from 1626 patients who had died of stroke were compared with data from 1626 patients who had died of cancer. Binary logistic analyses were used to calculate odds ratios, with 95% CI.
Compared to patients who was dying of cancer, the patients who was dying of stroke had a significantly higher prevalence of having death rattles registered, but a significantly lower prevalence of, nausea, confusion, dyspnea, anxiety, and pain. In addition, the stroke group had significantly lower odds ratios for health care staff not to know whether all these six symptoms were present or not. Patients who was dying of stroke had significantly lower odds ratio of having informative communication from a physician about the transition to end-of-life care and of their family members being offered bereavement follow-up.
The results indicate on differences in end-of-life care between patients dying of stroke and those dying from cancer. To improve the end-of-life care in clinical practice and ensure it has consistent quality, irrespective of diagnosis, education and implementation of palliative care principles are necessary.
Cites: Health Aff (Millwood). 2010 Aug;29(8):1489-9520679652
The aim of this study was to explore the experiences and preferences of terminally ill cancer patients regarding truth telling in the communication of poor prognoses.
We recorded and transcribed interviews with 45 patients who knew their cancer was terminal, and analyzed their responses hermeneutically.
Patients identified three different modes of truth: (1) the absolute objective truth that they are dying; (2) the partial truth about their condition including some facts but not all of the details; and (3) the desired truth, originating in the patient's own beliefs about a healthy or better life. Coping strategies were related to patients' preferred mode of truth: (1) facing the truth in order to take action; (2) facing some parts of the truth in order to maintain hope; and (3) hovering between facing and avoiding the truth. In their struggle for existential survival, patients used different coping strategies, changing from one to another depending upon the circumstances.
Varying use of different coping strategies impacts on patient preferences concerning communication about bad news with their doctors. Truth-telling entails more than merely providing information related to the forthcoming death. It also concerns how physicians or other healthcare staff can support the patient's existential survival by fine-tuning the communication of "truth" according to the individuals' preferences.
The aim of this study was to describe family members' experiences of participation in a support group intervention during ongoing palliative home care. Four taped-recorded focus group interviews were conducted (in total, 13 persons) and a questionnaire was completed by 19 of 22 possible family members. The participants experienced increased perception of support and knowledge, and would recommend that a person in a similar situation join a support group. Categories that emerged in the qualitative content analysis concerned "reasons for support group participation", "group composition contributed to group cohesion", "experience and sensitivity of group leader was a catalyst", "meaningful dialogue helped to solve everyday problems", "sense of cohesion increased effectiveness of the group", and "group sessions and post-session reflection increased perception of inner strength". Support groups for family members seem to be a valuable contribution during ongoing palliative home care. The findings are discussed in relation to recruitment into and ending of support groups.