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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.