PURPOSE: To assess parents' ability to absorb information that their child's cancer was incurable and to identify factors associated with parents' ability to absorb this information. PATIENTS AND METHODS: An anonymous mail-in questionnaire study was performed as a population-based investigation in Sweden between August and October of 2001. 449 parents who lost a child to cancer 4-9 years earlier (response rate 80%) completed the survey. 191 (43%) of the bereaved parents were fathers and 251 (56%) were mothers. RESULTS: Sixty percent of parents (n = 258) reported that they were able to absorb the information that their child's illness was incurable. Parents were better able to absorb this information when the information was given in an appropriate manner (RR 1.6; CI 1.3-2.0), when they shared their problems with others during the child's illness course (RR 1.4; CI 1.1-1.8) and when they had no history of depression (RR 1.3; CI 1.0-1.8). Parents who reported that they were able to absorb the information were more likely to have expressed their farewells to the child in their desired manner (RR 1.3; CI 1.0-1.5). CONCLUSIONS: Parents who received information that their child's illness was incurable in an appropriate manner are more likely to absorb that information. Whether or not parents are able to absorb the information that their child's cancer is incurable has implications in terms of preparation for the child's impending death.
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.
Yvon Bureau, president of the "Responsable jusqu'à la fin" foundation, spoke at the annual congress of the Quebec section of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. A social worker, Bureau spoke as if he were a doctor and asked some important questions as to what would be his relationship to his patient. His insights can be applied to anyone who works with those who are dying or terminally ill.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a major cause of cancer-related death and consumption of healthcare resources worldwide. Significant costs are generated shortly before death, partly because of continued oncological treatment during the terminal stage of disease. We analyzed factors predicting for the likelihood of active anticancer therapy during the final month of life. Patients who died from NSCLC (any stage and treatment) during the years 2006-2013 within a defined geographical region of northern Norway were included (n=266). Out of these, 28.6% received oncological treatment during the final month of life. Hospital death occurred in 70% of patients who received active treatment during their last month of life, compared to 41% of other patients (p=0.0001). Multivariate analysis showed that lack of documented resuscitation preference (p=0.001) and the presence of superior vena cava compression (p=0.039) were the most important predictors of active therapy during the last month of life. Trends were observed with regard to use of steroids for symptom palliation (p=0.067) and advanced T stage (p=0.071). Given that patients with documented resuscitation preference before their last month of life (typically a do not resuscitate order) were unlikely to receive active treatment during the final month (2% versus 35% in patients without documented preference), early discussion of prognosis, options for symptom control and resuscitation preference are crucial components in strategies for improving terminal care.