The need for palliative and end-of-life care (PEOLC) education in prelicensure education has been identified. PEOLC requires effective collaborative teamwork. The competencies required for effective collaborative teamwork are only now emerging and methods to evaluate them must be developed.
The adaptation of the traditional Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) for assessment of a student team addressing palliative care issues was undertaken. The McMaster-Ottawa Team Observed Structured Clinical Encounter (TOSCE) is intended as a formative evaluation tool for both competencies in interprofessional collaboration for patient-centered practice and PEOLC.
Three stations based on palliative care scenarios were developed. From January 2007 to January 2008, a total of 141 students and 38 observers participated in the evaluation of three stations, with 6-7 students per group and two observers per station. Observers completed checklists for both PEOLC and interprofessional collaborative competencies and, after completing the TOSCEs, students and observers completed questionnaires on their feasibility and acceptability.
Eighty-nine percent of the students and 44% of the observers were from medicine. Students and observers found the TOSCE to be an acceptable and feasible assessment tool for both sets of competencies. Reliability and validity data show that the items in both the clinical and interprofessional checklists fit well together, and interrater reliability is readily achieved.
The new formative evaluation TOSCE tool, adapted from the traditional OSCE, was acceptable and feasible to students and observers.
This project brought together community-based practitioners and academics to develop and deliver interventions designed to enhance the leadership abilities of the designated leaders of seven rural/small town-based palliative care teams. Members of these community-based teams have already gained recognition for their teams' leadership and service delivery in their communities. All of the teams had worked closely with most members of the academic team prior to this project. The team members participated in a needs assessment exercise developed by the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa Health Service and University of Ottawa academic team. Results of the needs assessment identified leadership qualities that had contributed to their success, as well as their needs to further enhance their individual leadership qualities. The team effort, however, was the most important factor contributing to the success of their work. The interventions developed to address the identified needs had to be adapted creatively through the collaborative efforts of both the community and academic teams. The educational interventions facilitated the integration of learning at the individual and community level into the busy work schedules of primary health care providers.
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.
A need to introduce the concepts of death and dying to the medical and health sciences undergraduate curriculum was identified at the University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. As care of the terminally ill is complex and requires the collaborative involvement of a diverse group of health care professionals, an interprofessional educational approach was utilized to address this need. A seminar course was developed using popular literature as the basis for learning, and offered to first and second year medical students, fourth year nursing students and graduate students in spiritual care. The discussion of roles and the provision of care within the context of works of selected literature provided a focus that enabled the students to transcend their disciplinary barriers, and to better understand the perspectives and contributions that other team members bring to patient care. Evaluation findings suggest that meaningful interprofessional education can be introduced effectively to students either prior to or while they are maturing in their professional roles.
As a component of palliative care educational program development, the faculty at the University of Ottawa Institute of Palliative Care wished to assess end-of-life care for patients in long-term care (LTC) settings to develop an educational strategy for physicians.
A chart audit, focusing on the last 48 hours of life of residents dying in LTC facilities.
Five LTC facilities in a city in Canada.
Residents who died in the LTC facilities in a 12-month period. Those who died suddenly (i.e., with no palliation period) or in a hospital were excluded.
Symptoms highlighted in the literature as commonly found in the terminally ill and the matching treatments were recorded on an audit form created by the authors. Included were pain, dyspnea, noisy breathing, delirium, dysphagia, fever, and myoclonus.
One hundred eighty-five charts were reviewed. A large number of patients were cognitively impaired. Cancer was the final diagnosis in 14% of cases. Respiratory symptoms were the most prevalent symptom, with dyspnea being first and noisy breathing third. Pain was second, with a prevalence similar to that found in studies of cancer patients. Dyspnea was not treated in 23% of the patients with this symptom; opioids were used in only 27% of cases with dyspnea. Ninety-nine percent of patients who experienced pain were treated for it. Less than one-third of patients with noisy breathing were treated. Delirium was not treated in 38% of the cases, and no anti-dopaminergic medications were administered. Nurses were primarily responsible for documenting end-of-life issues, supporting the families of the dying residents, and communicating with other team members.
The focused chart audit identified the high prevalence of cognitive impairment in the patient population, which complicates symptom management. Respiratory symptoms predominated in the last 48 hours of life. This symptom profile differs from that of cancer patients, who, according to the literature, have more pain and less respiratory trouble. Management of symptoms was variable. Nurses played a crucial role in the care of dying residents through their documentation and communication of end-of-life issues. Appropriate palliative care education can provide knowledge and skills to all health-care professionals, including physicians, and assist them in the control of symptoms and improvement of quality of life for patients dying in LTC facilities.