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  • Author: Siew Tzuh Tang x
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Siew Tzuh Tang, Tsang-Wu Liu, Fur-Hsing Wen, Chiun Hsu, Yi-Heng Chang, Cheng-Shyong Chang, Yung-Chuan Sung, Cheng-I Hsieh, Shou-Yi Chang, Li Ni Liu and Ming-Chu Chiang

Background: Changes over time in preferences for life-sustaining treatments (LSTs) at end of life (EOL) in different patient cohorts are not well established, nor is the concept that LST preferences represent more than 2 groups (uniformly prefer/not prefer). Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore heterogeneity and changes in patterns of LST preferences among 2 independent cohorts of terminally ill patients with cancer recruited a decade apart. Methods: Preferences for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, intensive care unit care, cardiac massage, intubation with mechanical ventilation, intravenous nutritional support, nasogastric tube feeding, and dialysis were surveyed among 2,187 and 2,166 patients in 2003–2004 and 2011–2012, respectively. Patterns and changes in LST preferences were examined by multigroup latent class analysis. Results: We identified 7 preference classes: uniformly preferring, uniformly rejecting, uniformly uncertain, favoring nutritional support but rejecting other treatments, favoring nutritional support but uncertain about other treatments, favoring intravenous nutritional support with mixed rejection of or uncertainty about other treatments, and preferring LSTs except intubation with mechanical ventilation. Probability of class membership decreased significantly over time for the uniformly preferring class (15.26%–8.71%); remained largely unchanged for the classes of uniformly rejecting (41.71%–40.54%) and uniformly uncertain (9.10%–10.47%), and favoring nutritional support but rejecting (20.68%–21.91%) or uncertain about (7.02%–5.47%) other treatments, and increased significantly for the other 2 classes. The LST preferences of Taiwanese terminally ill patients with cancer are not a homogeneous construct and shifted toward less-aggressive treatments over the past decade. Conclusions: Identifying LST preference patterns and tailoring interventions to the unique needs of patients in each LST preference class may lead to the provision of less-aggressive EOL 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.

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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.