The experience of hope among cancer patients in palliative care is important information for healthcare providers, but research on the subject is sparse. The aim of this article was to explore how cancer patients admitted to palliative home care experienced the significance of hope and used hope during 6 weeks throughout the last phase of their life, and to assess their symptoms and hope status during 6 weeks throughout the last phase of their lives.
Eleven adult patients with cancer participated in 20 interviews and completed seven diaries. The participants were recruited from two palliative care units in the southeast of Sweden. The method used was Grounded Theory (GT), and analysis was based on the constant comparative method.
The core category, glimmering embers, was generated from four processes: (1) The creation of "convinced" hope, with a focus on positive events, formed in order to have something to look forward to; (2) The creation of "simulated hope," including awareness of the lack of realism, but including attempts to believe in unrealistic reasons for hope; (3) The collection of and maintaining of moments of hope, expressing a wish to "seize the day" and hold on to moments of joy and pleasure; and (4) "Gradually extinct" hope, characterized by a lack of energy and a sense of time running out.
The different processes of hope helped the patients to continue to live when they were close to death. Hope should be respected and understood by the professionals giving them support.
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.
Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet and The Vårdal Institute, The Swedish Institute for Health Sciences and Research and Development Department, Stockholms Sjukhem Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden. firstname.lastname@example.org
This paper explores how bereaved relatives experienced soft tissue massage during the first four months after the death of a family member who was in palliative cancer care.
Death of a close family member or friend is recognised as being an emotional and existential turning point in life. Previous studies emphasise need for various support strategies to assist relatives while they are grieving.
Eighteen bereaved relatives (11 women and seven men) received soft tissue massage (25 minutes, hand or foot) once a week for eight weeks. In-depth interviews were conducted after the end of the eight-week periods. Interviews were analysed using a qualitative descriptive content analysis method.
Soft tissue massage proved to be helpful and to generate feelings of consolation in the first four months of grieving. The main findings were organised into four categories: (1) a helping hand at the right time, (2) something to rely on, (3) moments of rest and (4) moments of retaining energy. The categories were then conceptualised into this theme: feelings of consolation and help in learning to restructure everyday life.
Soft tissue massage was experienced as a commendable source of consolation support during the grieving process. An assumption is that massage facilitates a transition toward rebuilding identity, but more studies in this area are needed.
Soft tissue massage appears to be a worthy, early, grieving-process support option for bereaved family members whose relatives are in palliative care.
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.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common cause of death. Despite the heavy symptom burden in late stages, these patients are relatively seldom referred to specialist palliative care.
A web-based survey concerning medical and organizational aspects of palliative care in COPD was distributed to respiratory physicians in Sweden. There were 93 respondents included in the study.
Palliative care issues were regularly discussed with the patients according to a third of the respondents. About half of the respondents worked in settings where established routines for co-operation with palliative units were available at least to some extent. Less than half of the respondents (39%) were aware of current plans to develop palliative care, either as a co-operative effort or within the facility. Palliative care is focused on physical, psychological, social, and existential dimensions, and the proportions of respondents providing support within these dimensions, 'always' or 'often', were 83%, 36%, 32%, and 11%, respectively. Thus, to treat the physical dimensions was perceived as much more obvious than to address the other dimensions.
The survey indicates that the priorities and resources for palliative care in COPD are insufficient in Sweden. The data, despite limitations, reveal a lack of established team-work with specialized palliative care units and actual plans for such co-operation.
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.