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Andrea Feldstain, Barry D. Bultz, Janet de Groot, Amane Abdul-Razzak, Leonie Herx, Lyle Galloway, Srini Chary, and Aynharan Sinnarajah

Background: Palliative care aims to improve suffering and quality of life for patients with life-limiting disease. This study evaluated an interdisciplinary palliative consultation team for outpatients with advanced cancer at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. This team traditionally offered palliative medicine and recently integrated a specialized psychosocial clinician. Historic patient-reported clinical outcomes were reviewed. There were no a priori hypotheses. Methods: A total of 180 chart reviews were performed in 8 sample months in 2015 and 2016; 114 patients were included. All patients were referred for management of complex cancer symptomatology by oncology or palliative care clinicians. Patients attended initial interviews in person; palliative medicine follow-ups were largely performed by telephone, and psychosocial appointments were conducted in person for those who were interested and had psychosocial concerns. Chart review included collection of demographics, medical information, and screening for distress measures at referral, initial consult, and discharge. Results: A total of 51% of the patient sample were men, 81% were living with a partner, and 87% had an advanced cancer diagnosis. Patients were grouped based on high, moderate, or low scores for 5 symptoms (pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and well-being). High scores on all 5 symptoms decreased from referral to discharge. Pain and anxiety decreased in the moderate group. All 5 low scores increased significantly. Sleep, frustration/anger, sense of burdening others, and sensitivity to cold were less frequently endorsed by discharge. Conclusions: Patients who completed this interdisciplinary palliative consult service appeared to experience a reduction in their most severe symptoms. Visits to patients during existing appointments or having them attend a half-day clinic appears to have reached those referred. With interdisciplinary integration, clinicians are able to collaborate to address patient care needs. Considerations include how to further integrate palliative and psychosocial care to achieve additional benefits and ongoing monitoring of changes in symptom burden.