Background: Helping people achieve their preferred location of care is an important indicator of quality end-of-life (EOL) care. Using a sample of Australian medical oncology outpatients, this study examined (1) their preferred location of EOL care; (2) their perceived benefits and worries of receiving care in that location; (3) the percentage who had discussed preferences with their doctor and/or support person; and (4) whether they wanted their doctor to ask them where they wanted to die. Methods: Adults with a confirmed diagnosis of cancer were approached between September 2015 and January 2016 in the waiting room of an Australian oncology outpatient clinic. Consenting participants completed a home-based pen-and-paper survey indicating preferred location of care, perceived benefits and worries of that location, whether they had discussed preferences with their doctors, and whether they were willing to be asked about their preferences. Results: A total of 203 patients returned the survey (47% of those eligible). Less than half preferred to be cared for at home (47%), 34% preferred a hospice/palliative care unit, and 19% preferred the hospital. Common benefits and worries associated with locations included perceived burden on others, familiarity of environment, availability of expert medical care, symptom management, and likelihood of having wishes respected. More patients had discussed preferences with their support persons (41%) than doctors (7%). Most wanted a doctor to ask them about preferred location of care (87%) and thought it was important to die in the location of their choice (93%). Conclusions: Patients were willing to have clinicians to ask them where they wanted to die, although few had discussed their preferences with doctors. Although home was the most preferred location for many patients, the overall variation suggests that clinicians should adopt a systematic approach to eliciting patient preferences.
Amy Waller, Rob Sanson-Fisher, Nicholas Zdenkowski, Charles Douglas, Alix Hall and Justin Walsh
Amy Waller, Charles Douglas, Rob Sanson-Fisher, Nicholas Zdenkowski, Angela Pearce, Tiffany Evans and Justin Walsh
Objectives: This study surveyed a sample of medical oncology outpatients to determine (1) the proportion who have already discussed and documented their end-of-life (EOL) wishes; (2) when and with whom they would prefer to convey their EOL wishes; (3) the EOL issues they would want to discuss; and (4) the association between perceived cancer status and advance care planning (ACP) participation. Methods: Adult medical oncology outpatients were approached in the waiting room of an Australian tertiary treatment center. Consenting participants completed a pen-and-paper survey assessing participation in ACP, preferences for conveying EOL wishes, timing of EOL discussions, and EOL issues they want to be asked about. Results: A total of 203 patients returned the survey (47% of eligible). EOL discussions occurred more frequently with support persons (47%) than with doctors (7%). Only 14% had recorded their wishes, and 45% had appointed an enduring guardian. Those who perceived their cancer as incurable were more likely to have participated in ACP. If facing EOL, patients indicated that they would want family involved in discussions (85%), to be able to write down EOL wishes (82%), and to appoint enduring guardians (91%). Many (45%) preferred the first discussion to happen when their disease became incurable. Slightly less than one-third thought discussions regarding EOL should be patient-initiated. Most agreed doctors should ask about preferred decision-making involvement (92%), how important it is that pain is managed well (95%), and how important it is to remain conscious (82%). Fewer (55%) wanted to be asked about the importance of care extending life. Conclusions: Many patients would like to have discussions regarding EOL care with their doctor and involve their support persons in this process. Only a small percentage of respondents had discussed EOL care with their doctors, recorded their wishes, or appointed an enduring guardian. The first step requires clinicians to ask whether an individual patient wishes to discuss EOL issues, in what format, and at what level of detail.
Barry D. Bultz, Amy Waller, Jodi Cullum, Paula Jones, Johan Halland, Shannon L. Groff, Catriona Leckie, Lisa Shirt, Scott Blanchard, Harold Lau, Jacob Easaw, Konrad Fassbender and Linda E. Carlson
This study examined the benefits of incorporating screening for distress as a routine part of care for patients with head and neck and neurologic cancers in a tertiary cancer center. Using a comparative 2-cohort pre-post implementation sequential design, consecutive outpatients with head and neck and neurologic cancers were recruited into 2 separate cohorts. Cohort 1 included patients attending clinics during April 2010, before the implementation of the screening program. The program was then implemented and patients completed the Screening for Distress Minimum Dataset (the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System [ESAS] and the Canadian Problem Checklist [CPC]) at each clinic visit. Cohort 2 included patients attending clinics during March 2011. Consenting patients completed screening and outcome measures (ESAS, CPC, and either the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Brain or the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Head and Neck). A total of 146 patients (78 head and neck and 68 neurologic) provided data for Cohort 1, and 143 (81 head and neck and 62 neurologic) provided data for Cohort 2. Compared with Cohort 1, patients with neurologic cancers in Cohort 2 reported significantly higher scores on the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy: General total and emotional quality of life subscale; fewer high scores (≥4) on the ESAS breathlessness item; and fewer problems with fears/worries, frustration/anger, finding meaning in life, and worry about friends/family. Head and neck patients in Cohort 2 reported significantly higher emotional quality of life and fewer problems with eating and weight than those in Cohort 1. Although no definitive causal attributions can be made, patients exposed to routine screening for distress reported better well-being and fewer emotional, physical, and practical problems than historical controls.