Denmark has been ranked low regarding the extent of teaching in palliative care (PC) at medical schools although the Danish Health Authority recommends that all doctors have basic knowledge of PC. The aim of this study was to investigate the contents of and time spent on teaching in PC at the four Danish medical schools and to compare results with recommendations from the European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC).
Data were collected by examining university curricula, course catalogues, etc., using search words based on recommendations from the Palliative Education Assessment Tool and by a questionnaire survey among the university employees responsible for semesters or courses in Danish medical schools.
Teaching in palliative medicine at Danish medical schools is generally sparse and mainly deals with pain management and general aspects of PC. Compared to European recommendations, teaching in, e.g., ethics, spirituality, teamwork and self-reflection is lacking. Furthermore, PC training does not reach the recommended minimum of 40 hours, and examinations in PC are not held. As from the autumn of 2017, the University of Southern Denmark has offered a course that expands teaching in PC and thereby improves compliance with EAPC recommendations; the remaining three medical schools do not, to our knowledge, have any specific plans to increase the extent of teaching activities in palliative medicine.
Teaching in palliative medicine is sparse at all four medical schools in Denmark and should be strengthened to meet Danish as well as European recommendations.
Specialized palliative care teams are typically based in larger hospitals, from where home visits, telephone consultations, and support are given directly to patients and relatives, but also to professionals working on the frontline. One of the challenges is the long distances to the patients' homes. Modern telecommunication may help overcome this, but little is known about the perceived advantages and barriers to palliative care. This study analyzed the views on modern telecommunication from specialized palliative care professionals' perspective.
This descriptive study is based on four semistructured group interviews where 17 health professionals from three different palliative care teams in the Central Denmark Region were interviewed from November 2009 to March 2010.
We found that face-to-face communication is essential. The participants perceived a potentially added communicative value in visual telecommunication but would never let it replace face-to-face communication. Ethical and practical concerns were expressed on the implementation of "modern telecommunication" and in particular strong reservations against permanent telemonitoring in the patient's home.
Our study underlines the necessity of face-to-face contact in optimal palliative care and that home visits were favored. The participants were generally positive toward telecommunication, although reservations and prerequisites were voiced.
Beneficial effects of early palliative care have been found in advanced cancer, but the evidence is not unequivocal.
To investigate the effect of early specialist palliative care among advanced cancer patients identified in oncology departments.
The Danish Palliative Care Trial (DanPaCT) (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01348048) is a multicentre randomised clinical trial comparing early referral to a specialist palliative care team plus standard care versus standard care alone. The planned sample size was 300. At five oncology departments, consecutive patients with advanced cancer were screened for palliative needs. Patients with scores exceeding a predefined threshold for problems with physical, emotional or role function, or nausea/vomiting, pain, dyspnoea or lack of appetite according to the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) were eligible. The primary outcome was the change in each patient's primary need (the most severe of the seven QLQ-C30 scales) at 3- and 8-week follow-up (0-100 scale). Five sensitivity analyses were conducted. Secondary outcomes were change in the seven QLQ-C30 scales and survival.
Totally 145 patients were randomised to early specialist palliative care versus 152 to standard care. Early specialist palliative care showed no effect on the primary outcome of change in primary need (-4.9 points (95% confidence interval -11.3 to +1.5 points); p = 0.14). The sensitivity analyses showed similar results. Analyses of the secondary outcomes, including survival, also showed no differences, maybe with the exception of nausea/vomiting where early specialist palliative care might have had a beneficial effect.
We did not observe beneficial or harmful effects of early specialist palliative care, but important beneficial effects cannot be excluded.
Little is known about the existing barriers to cooperation among health professionals in basic level palliative care for terminally ill patients with cancer in primary health care.
The aim of this study was to analyze health professionals' views on interprofessional cooperation in basic level palliative home care for terminally ill cancer patients.
This study was a qualitative, descriptive study based on 7 semistructured group interviews conducted in the former Aarhus County, Denmark. Forty-three health professionals (23 family physicians, 5 chief physicians, and 15 home care nurses) were interviewed.
Two main categories of problems were identified: (1) the organization of palliative home care (need for proactive planning from the start of the palliative trajectory, clear distribution of tasks, advancement of more efficient communication pathways, and improved accessibility to all health professionals) and (2) interaction between health professionals (increased knowledge of and respect for the competencies of other health occupations and individuals).
The study indicates problems with respect to both the organization of the basic level palliative home care and the working culture among health professionals. The main issues: distribution of tasks, information exchange, availability, respect, and personal acquaintance are pivotal to improve the delivery of palliative home care, to training in palliative care and warrant future research.
Advanced cancer patients experience considerable symptoms, problems, and needs. Early referral of these patients to specialized palliative care (SPC) could offer improvements. The Danish Palliative Care Trial (DanPaCT) investigates whether patients with metastatic cancer will benefit from being referred to 'early SPC'. DanPaCT is a multicenter, parallel-group, superiority clinical trial with 1:1 randomization. The planned sample size was 300 patients. The primary data collection for DanPaCT is finished. To prevent outcome reporting bias, selective reporting, and data-driven results, we present a detailed statistical analysis plan (SAP) for DanPaCT here.
This SAP provides detailed descriptions of the statistical analyses of the primary and secondary outcomes in DanPaCT. The primary outcome is the change in the patient's 'primary need'. The 'primary need' is a patient-individualised outcome representing the score of the symptom or problem that had the highest intensity out of seven at baseline assessed with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30). Secondary outcomes are the seven scales that are represented in the primary outcome, but each scale evaluated individually for all patients, and survival. The detailed description includes chosen significance levels, models for multiple imputations, sensitivity analyses and blinding. In addition, we discuss the patient-individualized primary outcome, blinding, missing data, multiplicity and the risk of bias.
Only few trials have investigated the effects of SPC. To our knowledge DanPaCT is the first trial to investigate screening based 'early SPC' for patients with metastatic cancer from a broad spectrum of cancer diagnosis.
Most terminally ill patients and relatives prefer care and death to occur at home. However, in many cases patients die in hospital and the question arises whether social inequity in palliative care exists. The aim of this study was to analyse associations between dying at home and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics adjusted for healthcare utilisation among Danish cancer patients.
Population-based, cross-sectional register study in Aarhus County, Denmark. 599 deceased adults who died from cancer from 1 March to 30 November 2006 in a well-defined geographical area were identified. Based on unique personal identifier numbers, socioeconomic data and healthcare utilisation from different registers were retrieved and analysed.
Multivariate analysis showed that dying at home was negatively associated with, first, being either 50-59 (prevalence ratio (PR): 0.67 (95% CI 0.45 to 0.99)) or 70-79 years of age (PR: 0.83 (95% CI 0.70 to 0.99)) compared with being 80 years or above; second, a middle personal income compared with a high income (PR: 0.86 (95% CI 0.75 to 1.00)); and, third, being employed or having a leadership position compared with being unemployed/student/receiving social security (PR: 0.72 (95% CI 0.53 to 0.98)).
The found socioeconomic differences in whether death occurred at home or at institutions indicate that age, income and social class must be taken into account when palliative care services engage in fulfilling preferences of dying at home. This may lead to more equality in the possibility of dying at home, despite differences in socioeconomic level.
OBJECTIVE: General practitioner (GP) involvement may be instrumental in obtaining successful palliative cancer trajectories. The aim of the study was to examine associations between bereaved relatives' evaluation of palliative cancer trajectories, place of death, and GP involvement. DESIGN: Population-based, cross-sectional combined register and questionnaire study. SETTING: The former Aarhus County, Denmark. SUBJECTS: Questionnaire data on GPs' palliative efforts and relatives' evaluations of the palliative trajectories were obtained for 153 cases of deceased cancer patients. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: A successful palliative trajectory as evaluated retrospectively by the relatives. RESULTS: Successful palliative trajectories were statistically significantly associated with home death (PR 1.48 (95% CI 1.04; 2.12)). No significant associations were identified between the evaluations of the palliative trajectory at home and GP involvement. "Relative living with patient" (PR 1.75 (95% CI: 0.87; 3.53)) and "GP having contact with relatives" (PR 1.69 (95% CI 0.55; 5.19)) were not significantly associated, but this may be due to the poor number of cases included in the final analysis. CONCLUSION: This study indicates that home death is positively associated with a higher likelihood that bereaved relatives will evaluate the palliative trajectory at home as successful. No specific GP services that were statistically significantly associated with higher satisfaction among relatives could be identified, but contact between GPs and relatives seems important and the impact needs further investigation.
Equal access to end-of-life care is important. However, social inequality has been found in relation to place-of-death. The question is whether social and economic factors play a role in access to specialist palliative care services.
The study analyzed the association between access to outreach specialist palliative care teams (SPCTs) and socioeconomic characteristics of Danish cancer patients who died of their cancer.
The study was a population-based, cross-sectional register study. We identified 599 adults who had died of cancer from March 1 to November 30, 2006, in Aarhus County, Denmark. Data from health registers were retrieved and linked based on the unique personal identifier number.
Multivariate analysis with adjustment for age, gender, and general practitioner (GP) involvement showed a higher probability of contact with an SPCT among immigrants and descendants of immigrants than among people of Danish origin (prevalence ratio [PR]: 1.55; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04;2.31) and among married compared to unmarried patients (PR: 1.25; 95% CI: 1.01;1.54). The trends were most marked among women.
We found an association between females, married patients, and female immigrants and their descendants and access to an SPCT in Denmark. However, no association with the examined economic factor was found. Need for specialized health care, which is supposed to be the main reason for access to an SPCT, may be related to economic imbalance; and despite the relative equality found, SPCT access may not be equal for all Danish residents. Further research into social and economic consequences in palliative care services is warranted.
Specialised palliative care (SPC) takes place in specialised services for patients with complex symptoms and problems. Little is known about what determines the admission of patients to SPC and whether there are differences in relation to institution type. The aims of the study were to investigate whether cancer patients' admittance to SPC in Denmark varied in relation to sex, age and diagnosis, and whether the patterns differed by type of institution (hospital-based palliative care team/unit, hospice, or both).
This was a register-based study of adult patients living in Denmark who died from cancer in 2010-2012. Data sources were the Danish Palliative Care Database, Danish Register of Causes of Death and Danish Cancer Registry. The associations between the explanatory variables (sex, age, diagnosis) and admittance to SPC were investigated using logistic regression.
In the study population (N?=?44,548) the overall admittance proportion to SPC was 37%. Higher odds of overall admittance to SPC were found for women (OR?=?1.23; 1.17-1.28), younger patients (