Despite high frequencies of multiple, life-limiting conditions relating to palliative care needs, people who are homeless are one of the most underserved and rarely encountered groups in palliative care settings. Instead, they often die in care places where palliative competence is not available. In this qualitative single-case study, we explored the conditions and practices of palliative care from the perspective of staff at a Swedish support home for homeless people. Interpretive description guided the research process, and data were generated from repeated reflective conversations with staff in groups, individually, and in pairs. The findings disclose a person-centered approach to palliative care, grounded in the understanding of the person's health/illness and health literacy, and how this is related to and determinant on life as a homeless individual. Four patterns shape this approach: building trustful and family-like relationships, re-dignifying the person, re-considering communication about illness and dying, and re-defining flexible and pragmatic care solutions.
The objective of this study was to enhance the depth of existing knowledge about meanings and experiential outcomes of bodily care in the context of an inpatient specialist palliative setting.
Interpretative phenomenology was chosen as the study sought to explore individuals' lived experiences related to bodily care. Nine participants (five women, four men) of various ages and with various metastasized cancers and bodily-care needs, all from one specialist palliative care ward, participated. Data were collected with repeated narrative interviews and supplementary participating observations. Analysis was informed by van Manen's approach.
The following meanings and experiential outcomes of bodily care were revealed by our study: maintaining and losing body capability, breaching borders of bodily integrity, being comforted and relieved in bodily-care situations, and being left in distress with unmet needs. These meanings overlap and shape the nature of each other and involve comforting and distressing experiences related to what can be described as conditional dimensions: the particular situation, one's own experiences of the body, and healthcare professionals' approaches.
The results, based on specialist palliative care patients' experiences, outline the meanings and outcomes that relate to the quintessence and complexity of palliative care, deriving from dying persons' blend of both basic and symptom-oriented bodily-care needs. Moreover, the results outline how these two dimensions of care equally influence whether comfort and well-being are facilitated or not. Considering this, specialist palliative care may consider how to best integrate and acknowledge the value of skilled basic nursing care as part of and complementary to expertise in symptom relief during the trajectories of illness and dying.
In 2007, a literature review was undertaken of palliative care research from Sweden during the 1970s-2006, paving the way for a follow-up study to explore the recent developments. The aim was to systematically examine palliative care research from Sweden between 2007 and 2012, with special attention to methods, designs and research foci.
A literature review was undertaken. The databases Academic search elite, Age line, Ahmed, Cinahl, PsychInfo, PubMed, Scopus, Soc abstracts, Web of science and Libris were reviewed for Swedish palliative care research studies published from 2007 to 2012, applying the search criteria 'palliative care OR palliative medicine OR end-of-life care OR terminal care OR hospice care OR dying OR death'.
A total of 263 papers met the inclusion criteria, indicating an increased volume of research compared to the 133 articles identified in the previous review. Common study foci were symptom assessment and management, experiences of illness and care planning. Targeting non-cancer-specific populations and utilisation of population-based register studies were identified as new features. There was continued domination of cross-sectional, qualitative and mono-disciplinary studies, not including ethnic minority groups, nonverbally communicable people or children
The significance of connectedness for well-being is well known. At the end of life however, illness and body decline may challenge a person's ability of staying and feeling connected. The aim of this phenomenological study was to interpret meanings of connectedness, through narrative interviews with persons admitted to inpatient palliative care in Sweden. Results involving connectedness through the body, connectedness to, and uncanniness toward other patients, and connectedness to significant others and society are discussed. The study underscores the importance of connectedness until death. However, in inpatient palliative care this is complex. Patients can co-create or challenge each other's sense of connectedness through the symbolism of illness and diseased bodies. Moreover, the capability of connectedness is influenced by illness, spatiality, atmosphere, activities, and resources in the care place.
The aims of this study were to examine, on a population level, where people die in Sweden, and to investigate associations between place of death and underlying cause of death, socioeconomic and environmental characteristics, with a particular interest in people dying from life-limiting conditions typically in need of palliative care.
This population-level study is based on death certificate data for all deceased individuals in Sweden in 2012, with a registered place of death (n=83,712). Multivariable logistic regression was performed to investigate associations between place of death and individual, socioeconomic and environmental characteristics.
The results show that, in 2012, 42.1% of all deaths occurred in hospitals, 17.8% occurred at home and 38.1% in nursing home facilities. Individuals dying of conditions indicative of potential palliative care needs were less likely to die in hospital than those dying of other conditions (OR = 0.73; 95% CI = 0.70-0.77). Living at home in urban areas was associated with higher likelihood of dying in hospital or in a nursing home (OR = 1.04 and 1.09 respectively). Educational attainment and marital status were found to be somewhat associated with the place of death.
The majority of deaths in Sweden occur in institutional settings, with comparatively larger proportions of nursing home deaths than most countries. Associations between place of death and other variables point to inequalities in availability and/or utilization of health services at the end of life.
Place of death has for the past decade increasingly come to be regarded as a robust indicator of how palliative care is organized and provided, and is also recognized as an important factor for well being at the end of life. Variations in place of cancer deaths have previously been reported in the context of country-specific healthcare organization, but without differentiating between cancer types and national regional variations. Our aim was to examine, at a population level, where people with cancer diseases die in Sweden, and to investigate associations of place of death and cancer type with individual, socioeconomic and geographical characteristics of the deceased.
This population level study is based on death certificate data (sex; age; underlying cause of death and place of death) and population register data (educational attainment, marital status, living arrangements, area of residence, degree of urbanization, and healthcare region) of all 2012 cancer deaths in Sweden, with a registered place of death (hospital, nursing home, home, other places). Data were explored descriptively. To investigate associations between place of death and cancer types, and individual, socioeconomic and environmental characteristics, a series of multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed.
The most frequent type of cancer death occurring at home was upper gastrointestinal cancer (25.6%) and the least frequent was hematological cancer (15.2%). Regional variations in cancer deaths occurring at home ranged from 17.1% to 28.4%. Factors associated with place of death by cancer type were age, educational attainment, marital status, healthcare regions and degree of urbanization.
Large healthcare regional variations in place of death among different cancer types were found. The socioeconomic inequality previously demonstrated for screening, diagnostic and treatment processes, rehabilitation and survival thus also seems to be reflected in the place of death.
Our aim was to explore the presence of symptoms, symptom relief, and other key aspects of palliative care during the final week of life among older people residing in nursing homes.
Our study employed data from the Swedish Palliative Care Register on all registered individuals aged 60 and older who had died in nursing homes during the years 2011 and 2012. Variables pertaining to monitoring and treatment of symptoms, end-of-life discussions, circumstances around the death, and the individual characteristics of deceased individuals were explored using descriptive statistics.
The most common underlying causes of death among the 49,172 deceased nursing home residents were circulatory diseases (42.2%) and dementia (22.7%). The most prevalent symptom was pain (58.7%), followed by rattles (42.4%), anxiety (33.0%), confusion (21.8%), shortness of breath (14.0%), and nausea (11.1%). Pain was the symptom with the highest degree of total relief (46.3%), whereas shortness of breath and confusion were totally relieved in 6.1 and 4.3% of all individuals, respectively. The use of valid instruments for symptom assessment was reported for pain in 12.3% and for other symptoms in 7.8% of subjects. The most prevalent individual prescriptions for injection PRN (pro re nata, according to circumstances) were for pain treatment (79.5%) and rattles (72.8%). End-of-life discussions were performed with 27.3% of all the deceased individuals and with 53.9% of their relatives. Of all individuals, 82.1% had someone present at death, and 15.8% died alone. Of all the nursing home resident deaths recorded, 45.3% died in their preferred place.
There were large variations in degree of relief from different symptoms during the final week of life. Pain was the most prevalent symptom, and it was also the symptom with the highest proportion of total/partial relief. Other symptoms were less prevalent but also less well-relieved. Our results indicate a need for improvement of palliative care in nursing home settings, focusing on management of distressing symptoms and promotion of end-of-life discussions.