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Fur-Hsing Wen, Chen Hsiu Chen, Wen-Chi Chou, Jen-Shi Chen, Wen-Cheng Chang, Chia-Hsun Hsieh, and Siew Tzuh Tang

Background: Issuing do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders has seldom been an outcome in randomized clinical trials of advance care planning (ACP) interventions. The aim of this study was to examine whether an ACP intervention facilitating accurate prognostic awareness (PA) for patients with advanced cancer was associated with earlier use of DNR orders. Patients and Methods: Participants (n=460) were randomly assigned 1:1 to the experimental and control arms, with 392 deceased participants constituting the final sample of this secondary analysis study. Participants in the intervention and control arms had each received an intervention tailored to their readiness for ACP/prognostic information and symptom-management education, respectively. Effectiveness in promoting a DNR order by facilitating accurate PA was determined by intention-to-treat analysis using multivariate logistic regression with hierarchical linear modeling. Results: At enrollment in the ACP intervention and before death, 9 (4.6%) and 8 (4.1%) participants and 168 (85.7%) and 164 (83.7%) participants in the experimental and control arms, respectively, had issued a DNR order, without significant between-arm differences. However, participants in the experimental arm with accurate PA were significantly more likely than participants in the control arm without accurate PA to have issued a DNR order before death (adjusted odds ratio, 2.264; 95% CI, 1.036–4.951; P=.041). Specifically, participants in the experimental arm who first reported accurate PA 31 to 90 days before death were significantly more likely than their counterparts in the control arm who reported accurate PA to have issued a DNR order in the next wave of assessment (adjusted odds ratio, 13.365; 95% CI, 1.989–89.786; P=.008). Both arms issued DNR orders close to death (median, 5–6 days before death). Conclusions: Our ACP intervention did not promote the overall presence of a DNR order. However, our intervention facilitated the issuance of NDR orders before death among patients with accurate PA, especially those who reported accurate PA 31 to 90 days before death, but it did not facilitate the issuance of DNR orders earlier than their counterparts in the control arm.

ClinicalTrial.gov Identification: NCT01912846

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Donglai Chen, Yiming Mao, Junmiao Wen, Jian Shu, Fei Ye, Yunlang She, Qifeng Ding, Li Shi, Tao Xue, Min Fan, Yongbing Chen, and Chang Chen

Background: This study sought to determine the optimal number of examined lymph nodes (ELNs) and examined node stations (ENSs) in patients with radiologically pure-solid non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who underwent lobectomy and ipsilateral lymphadenectomy by investigating the impact of ELNs and ENSs on accurate staging and long-term survival. Materials and Methods: Data from 6 institutions in China on resected clinical stage I–II (cI–II) NSCLCs presenting as pure-solid tumors were analyzed for the impact of ELNs and ENSs on nodal upstaging, stage migration, recurrence-free survival (RFS), and overall survival (OS). Correlations between different endpoints and ELNs or ENSs were fitted with a LOWESS smoother, and the structural break points were determined by Chow test. Results: Both ELNs and ENSs were identified as independent prognostic factors for OS (ENS hazard ratio [HR], 0.690; 95% CI, 0.597–0.797; P<.001; ELN HR, 0.950; 95% CI, 0.917–0.983; P=.004) and RFS (ENS HR, 0.859; 95% CI, 0.793–0.931; P<.001; ELN HR, 0.960; 95% CI, 0.942–0.962; P<.001), which were also associated with postoperative nodal upstaging (ENS odds ratio [OR], 1.057; 95% CI, 1.002–1.187; P=.004; ELN OR, 1.186; 95% CI, 1.148–1.226; P<.001). A greater number of ELNs and ENSs correlated with a higher accuracy of nodal staging and a lower probability of stage migration. Cut-point analysis revealed an optimal cutoff of 18 LNs and 6 node stations for stage cI–II pure-solid NSCLCs, which were validated in our multi-institutional cohort. Conclusions: Extensive examination of LNs and node stations seemed crucial to predicting accurate staging and survival outcomes. A threshold of 18 LNs and 6 node stations might be considered for evaluating the quality of LN examination in patients with stage cI–II radiologically pure-solid NSCLCs.

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Siew Tzuh Tang, Jen-Shi Chen, Fur-Hsing Wen, Wen-Chi Chou, John Wen-Cheng Chang, Chia-Hsun Hsieh, and Chen Hsiu Chen

Background: This study was conducted to examine whether a longitudinal advance care planning (ACP) intervention facilitates concordance between the preferred and received life-sustaining treatments (LSTs) of terminally ill patients with cancer and improves quality of life (QoL), anxiety symptoms, and depressive symptoms during the dying process. Patients and Methods: Of 795 terminally ill patients with cancer from a medical center in Taiwan, 460 were recruited and randomly assigned 1:1 to the experimental and control arms. The experimental arm received an interactive ACP intervention tailored to participants’ readiness to engage in this process. The control arm received symptom management education. Group allocation was concealed, data collectors were blinded, and treatment fidelity was monitored. Outcome measures included 6 preferred and received LSTs, QoL, anxiety symptoms, and depressive symptoms. Intervention effectiveness was evaluated by intention-to-treat analysis. Results: Participants providing data had died through December 2017. The 2 study arms did not differ significantly in concordance between the 6 preferred and received LSTs examined (odds ratios, 0.966 [95% CI, 0.653–1.428] and 1.107 [95% CI, 0.690–1.775]). Participants who received the ACP intervention had significantly fewer anxiety symptoms (β, −0.583; 95% CI, −0.977 to −0.189; P= .004) and depressive symptoms (β, −0.533; 95% CI, −1.036 to −0.030; P= .038) compared with those in the control arm, but QoL did not differ. Conclusions: Our ACP intervention facilitated participants’ psychological adjustment to the end-of-life (EoL) care decision-making process, but neither improved QoL nor facilitated EoL care honoring their wishes. The inability of our intervention to improve concordance may have been due to the family power to override patients’ wishes in deeply Confucian doctrine–influenced societies such as Taiwan. Nevertheless, our findings reassure healthcare professionals that such an ACP intervention does not harm but improves the psychological well-being of terminally ill patients with cancer, thereby encouraging physicians to discuss EoL care preferences with patients and involve family caregivers in EoL care decision-making to eventually lead to patient value–concordant EoL cancer care.

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Siew Tzuh Tang, Jen-Shi Chen, Wen-Chi Chou, Wen-Cheng Chang, Chiao-En Wu, Chia-Hsun Hsieh, Ming-Chu Chiang, and Mei-Ling Kuo

Background: Temporal changes in the prevalence of anxiety disorders/symptoms for patients with cancer at the end of life (EOL) remain unclear. This study was undertaken to describe changes in the prevalence of severe anxiety symptoms and to identify its correlates in the last year of life for patients with cancer. Methods: A convenience sample of 325 patients with cancer was followed until death. Severe anxiety symptoms were identified as anxiety subscale scores of 11 or greater on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Longitudinal changes in and correlates of severe anxiety symptoms were examined from demographics, disease-related characteristics, disease burden, perceived burden to others, and social support using multivariate logistic regression modeling with generalized estimating equations. Results: The prevalence of severe anxiety symptoms increased as death approached (18.6%, 21.9%, 26.7%, and 33.4% at 181–365, 91–180, 31–90, and 1–30 days before death, respectively). However, after controlling for covariates, this temporal increase was not significant. The prevalence of severe anxiety symptoms was not associated with fixed demographics and disease-related characteristics, except for diagnosis and metastatic status, but was significantly higher in patients with cancer with high physical symptom distress, severe depressive symptoms, high perceived burden to others, and strong perceived social support. Conclusions: Severe anxiety symptoms were not associated with time proximity to death per se but were related to factors modifiable by high-quality EOL care. Clinicians may decrease the likelihood of severe anxiety symptoms at EOL by adequately managing physical and depressive symptoms and lightening perceived burden to others for patients strongly connected with their social network to improve their psychological well-being.