Teaching Pain Management in Serious Illness in the Era of the Opioid Epidemic: A Team-Based Intervention.
ABSTRACT: Introduction:Despite the prevalence of pain in patients with serious illness, recent guidelines for opioid prescribing practices have largely excluded palliative care patients. In lieu of such guidelines, many have recommended adapting risk mitigation strategies from the chronic pain arena for palliative care and oncology populations. Teaching interventions are needed to demonstrate how these methods can be applied to patients with serious illness. Methods:We developed a teaching intervention for fourth-year medical students to improve knowledge about safe opioid prescribing practices in palliative care patients and emphasized both effective and safe pain management. A secondary aim of the intervention was to demonstrate how a palliative care interdisciplinary team works together to care for a complex patient near the end of life. The intervention lasted 1 hour and consisted of an interdisciplinary case presentation as well as a slide presentation. Results:Twenty-two medical students attended the session over 2 years. After the intervention, medical students better understood risk mitigation strategies and felt more strongly that opioids can be a useful tool in treating pain for patients with serious illness. Students' familiarity with palliative care interdisciplinary roles also improved after the intervention. Discussion:This session was a useful part of a palliative care 2-week classroom elective and was well received by students. The development of a survey tool that assesses student attitudes around effective and safe pain management in patients with serious illness may be of use to others who teach pain management in palliative care populations.
Project description:Given the shortage of palliative care specialists in the United States, to ensure quality of care for patients with serious, life-threatening illness, generalist-level palliative care competencies need to be defined and taught. The purpose of this study was to define essential competencies for medical students and internal medicine and family medicine (IM/FM) residents through a national survey of palliative care experts.Proposed competencies were derived from existing hospice and palliative medicine fellowship competencies and revised to be developmentally appropriate for students and residents. In spring 2012, the authors administered a Web-based, national cross-sectional survey of palliative care educational experts to assess ratings and rankings of proposed competencies and competency domains.The authors identified 18 comprehensive palliative care competencies for medical students and IM/FM residents, respectively. Over 95% of survey respondents judged the competencies as comprehensive and developmentally appropriate (survey response rate = 72%, 71/98). Using predefined cutoff criteria, experts identified 7 medical student and 13 IM/FM resident competencies as essential. Communication and pain/symptom management were rated as the most critical domains.This national survey of palliative care experts defines comprehensive and essential palliative care competencies for medical students and IM/FM residents that are specific, measurable, and can be used to report educational outcomes; provide a sequence for palliative care curricula in undergraduate and graduate medical education; and highlight the importance of educating medical trainees in communication and pain management. Next steps include seeking input and endorsement from stakeholders in the broader medical education community.
Project description:The progressive nature of heart failure (HF) coupled with high mortality and poor quality of life mandates greater attention to palliative care as a routine component of advanced HF management. Limited evidence exists from randomized, controlled trials supporting the use of interdisciplinary palliative care in HF.PAL-HF is a prospective, controlled, unblinded, single-center study of an interdisciplinary palliative care intervention in 200 patients with advanced HF estimated to have a high likelihood of mortality or rehospitalization in the ensuing 6 months. The 6-month PAL-HF intervention focuses on physical and psychosocial symptom relief, attention to spiritual concerns, and advanced care planning. The primary end point is health-related quality of life measured by the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy with Palliative Care Subscale score at 6 months. Secondary end points include changes in anxiety/depression, spiritual well-being, caregiver satisfaction, cost and resource utilization, and a composite of death, HF hospitalization, and quality of life.PAL-HF is a randomized, controlled clinical trial that will help evaluate the efficacy and cost effectiveness of palliative care in advanced HF using a patient-centered outcome as well as clinical and economic end points.
Project description:Practice guidelines recommend palliative care for patients with advanced cancer, but gaps in access and quality of care persist.To increase goals-of-care (GOC) communication for hospitalized patients with Stage IV cancer.An interdisciplinary team designed a quality improvement intervention to enhance oncology palliative care, including training in communication skills and triggers for palliative care consults.All adult inpatients with Stage IV cancer and unplanned admission at an 804-bed hospital affiliated with a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Center.The primary quality measure was the percentage of patients with Stage IV cancer who had a GOC discussion during hospitalization; secondary measures included screening for pain, dyspnea, spiritual needs, and outcomes of intensive care, hospice, and 30-day readmission.In the 11-month study period, n?=?330, Stage IV cancer patients were hospitalized. Comparing the first three months with the final three months, rates of GOC discussion increased from 29% to 48% (p?=?0.013), and specialty palliative care consultation increased from 18% to 33%, (p?=?0.026). Rates of symptom screening, intensive care unit transfer, hospice, and 30-day re-admission did not change overall. However, patients with specialty palliative care more frequently had pain screening (91% vs. 81%, p?=?0.020), spiritual assessment (48% vs. 10%, p?<?0.001), and hospice referral (39% vs. 9%, p?<?0.001), and they were less likely to be re-admitted within 30 days (12% vs. 21%, p?=?0.059).Interdisciplinary quality improvement was effective to increase GOC discussions and palliative care consults for patients with Stage IV cancer.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Advanced heart failure (HF) is characterized by high morbidity and mortality. Conventional therapy may not sufficiently reduce patient suffering and maximize quality of life. OBJECTIVES:The authors investigated whether an interdisciplinary palliative care intervention in addition to evidence-based HF care improves certain outcomes. METHODS:The authors randomized 150 patients with advanced HF between August 15, 2012, and June 25, 2015, to usual care (UC) (n = 75) or UC plus a palliative care intervention (UC + PAL) (n = 75) at a single center. Primary endpoints were 2 quality-of-life measurements, the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ) overall summary and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Palliative Care scale (FACIT-Pal), assessed at 6 months. Secondary endpoints included assessments of depression and anxiety (measured via the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]), spiritual well-being (measured via the FACIT-Spiritual Well-Being scale [FACIT-Sp]), hospitalizations, and mortality. RESULTS:Patients randomized to UC + PAL versus UC alone had clinically significant incremental improvement in KCCQ and FACIT-Pal scores from randomization to 6 months (KCCQ difference = 9.49 points, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.94 to 18.05, p = 0.030; FACIT-Pal difference = 11.77 points, 95% CI: 0.84 to 22.71, p = 0.035). Depression improved in UC + PAL patients (HADS-depression difference = -1.94 points; p = 0.020) versus UC-alone patients, with similar findings for anxiety (HADS-anxiety difference = -1.83 points; p = 0.048). Spiritual well-being was improved in UC + PAL versus UC-alone patients (FACIT-Sp difference = 3.98 points; p = 0.027). Randomization to UC + PAL did not affect rehospitalization or mortality. CONCLUSIONS:An interdisciplinary palliative care intervention in advanced HF patients showed consistently greater benefits in quality of life, anxiety, depression, and spiritual well-being compared with UC alone. (Palliative Care in Heart Failure [PAL-HF]; NCT01589601).
Project description:Palliative medicine is an interdisciplinary specialty focusing on improving quality of life (QOL) for patients with serious illness and their families. Palliative care programs are available or under development at over 80% of large US hospitals (300+ beds). Palliative care clinical trials present unique analytic challenges relative to evaluating the palliative care treatment efficacy which is to improve patients' diminishing QOL as disease progresses towards end of life (EOL). A unique feature of palliative care clinical trials is that patients will experience decreasing QOL during the trial despite potentially beneficial treatment. Often longitudinal QOL and survival data are highly correlated which, in the face of censoring, makes it challenging to properly analyze and interpret terminal QOL trend. To address these issues, we propose a novel semiparametric statistical approach to jointly model the terminal trend of QOL and survival data. There are two sub-models in our approach: a semiparametric mixed effects model for longitudinal QOL and a Cox model for survival. We use regression splines method to estimate the nonparametric curves and AIC to select knots. We assess the model performance through simulation to establish a novel modeling approach that could be used in future palliative care research trials. Application of our approach in a recently completed palliative care clinical trial is also presented.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Despite recognition that palliative care is an essential component of any humanitarian response, serious illness-related suffering continues to be pervasive in these settings. There is very limited evidence about the need for palliative care and symptom relief to guide the implementation of programs to alleviate the burden of serious illness-related suffering in these settings. A basic package of essential medications and supplies can provide pain relief and palliative care; however, the practical availability of these items has not been assessed. This study aimed to describe the illness-related suffering and need for palliative care in Rohingya refugees and caregivers in Bangladesh. METHODS AND FINDINGS:Between November 20 and 24, 2017, we conducted a cross-sectional study of individuals with serious health problems (n = 156, 53% male) and caregivers (n = 155, 69% female) living in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, using convenience sampling to recruit participants at the community level (i.e., going house to house to identify eligible individuals). The serious health problems, recent healthcare experiences, need for medications and medical supplies, and basic needs of participants were explored through interviews with trained Rohingya community members, using an interview guide that had been piloted with Rohingya individuals to ensure it reflected the specificities of their refugee experience and culture. The most common diagnoses were significant physical disabilities (n = 100, 64.1%), treatment-resistant tuberculosis (TB) (n = 32, 20.5%), cancer (n = 15, 9.6%), and HIV infection (n = 3, 1.9%). Many individuals with serious health problems were experiencing significant pain (62%, n = 96), and pain treatments were largely ineffective (70%, n = 58). The average age was 44.8 years (range 2-100 years) for those with serious health problems and 34.9 years (range 8-75 years) for caregivers. Caregivers reported providing an average of 13.8 hours of care per day. Sleep difficulties (87.1%, n = 108), lack of appetite (58.1%, n = 72), and lack of pleasure in life (53.2%, n = 66) were the most commonly reported problems related to the caregiving role. The main limitations of this study were the use of convenience sampling and closed-ended interview questioning. CONCLUSIONS:In this study we found that many individuals with serious health problems experienced significant physical, emotional, and social suffering due to a lack of access to pain and symptom relief and other essential components of palliative care. Humanitarian responses should develop and incorporate palliative care and symptom relief strategies that address the needs of all people with serious illness-related suffering and their caregivers.
Project description:Background. Single-disease-focused treatment and hospital-centric care are poorly suited to meet complex needs in an era of multimorbidity. Understanding variation in palliative care's association with treatment choices is essential to optimizing interdisciplinary decision making in care of complex patients. Aim. To estimate the association between palliative care and hospital costs by primary diagnosis and multimorbidity for adults with one of six life-limiting conditions: heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), liver failure, kidney failure, neurodegenerative conditions including dementia, and HIV/AIDS. Methods. Data from four studies (2002-2015) were pooled to provide an analytic dataset of 73,304 participants with mean costs $10,483, of whom 5,348 (7%) received palliative care. We estimated average effect of palliative care on direct hospital costs among the treated, using propensity scores to control for observed confounding. Results. Palliative care was associated with a statistically significant reduction in total direct costs for heart failure (estimated treatment effect: -$2666; 95% confidence interval [CI]: -$3440 to -$1892), neurodegenerative conditions (-$3523; -$4394 to -$2651), COPD (-$1613; -$2217 to -$1009), kidney failure (-$3589; -$5132 to -$2045), and liver failure (-$7574; -$9232 to -$5916). The association for liver failure patients was statistically significantly larger than for any other disease group. Cost-saving associations were also statistically larger for patients with multimorbidity than single disease for two of the six groups: neurodegenerative and liver failure. Conclusions. Heterogeneity in treatment effect estimates was observable in assessing association between palliative care and hospital costs for adults with serious life-limiting illnesses other than cancer. The results illustrate the importance of careful definition of palliative care populations in research and practice, and raise further questions about the role of interdisciplinary decision making in treatment of complex medical illness.
Project description:Introduction:The literature documents inadequate palliative medicine training in undergraduate and graduate medical education. As the population lives longer, many people will experience multiple chronic illnesses and the associated symptom burden. All physicians involved in clinical care of patients need to be equipped with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to provide palliative care, yet most physicians do not feel adequately prepared. We designed a curriculum to provide a meaningful palliative care-ethics (PCE) clinical experience to prepare senior medical students for future practice regardless of specialty choice. Methods:The Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell integrated a PCE experience into the required 4-week acting internship in critical care (AICC). Students met weekly with an interprofessional faculty member and presented clinical cases focusing on communication and/or bioethical challenges. Faculty facilitators ensured that the presentations integrated discussion of communication skills. During the final session, students shared written reflections. Students were invited to complete a satisfaction survey postrotation and 1 year after graduation. Results:The curriculum was evaluated positively by the graduating classes of 2015 (n = 28) and 2016 (n = 56) at the end of the course and 1 year postgraduation. Qualitative analysis of the class of 2018 fourth-year students' reflective writing demonstrated themes of role modeling, suffering, family, and goals of care. Discussion:It is feasible to incorporate an interprofessional PCE experience into a required AICC. Students indicated a better understanding of palliative care and, at 1 year postgraduation, reported feeling comfortable caring for patients with serious illness.
Project description:BACKGROUND:For patients with advanced cancer, visits to the emergency department (ED) are common. Such patients present to the ED with a specific profile of palliative care needs, including burdensome symptoms such as pain, dyspnea, or vomiting that cannot be controlled in other settings and a lack of well-defined goals of care. The goals of this study are: i) to test the feasibility of recruiting, enrolling, and randomizing patients with serious illness in the ED; and ii) to evaluate the impact of ED-initiated palliative care on health care utilization, quality of life, and survival. METHODS/DESIGN:This is a protocol for a single center parallel, two-arm randomized controlled trial in ED patients with metastatic solid tumors comparing ED-initiated palliative care referral to a control group receiving usual care. We plan to enroll 125 to 150 ED-advanced cancer patients at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, USA, who meet the following criteria: i) pass a brief cognitive screen; ii) speak fluent English or Spanish; and iii) have never been seen by palliative care. We will use balanced block randomization in groups of 50 to assign patients to the intervention or control group after completion of a baseline questionnaire. All research staff performing assessment or analysis will be blinded to patient assignment. We will measure the impact of the palliative care intervention on the following outcomes: i) timing and rate of palliative care consultation; ii) quality of life and depression at 12 weeks, measured using the FACT-G and PHQ-9; iii) health care utilization; and iv) length of survival. The primary analysis will be based on intention-to-treat. DISCUSSION:This pilot randomized controlled trial will test the feasibility of recruiting, enrolling, and randomizing patients with advanced cancer in the ED, and provide a preliminary estimate of the impact of palliative care referral on health care utilization, quality of life, and survival. TRIAL REGISTRATION:Clinical Trials.gov identifier: NCT01358110 (Entered 5/19/2011).
Project description:CONTEXT:Digital health offers innovative mechanisms to engage in palliative care, yet digital systems are typically designed for individual users, rather than integrating the patient's caregiving "social convoy" (i.e., family members, friends, neighbors, formal caregiving supports) to maximize benefit. As older adults with serious illness increasingly rely on the support of others, there is a need to foster effective integration of the social convoy in digitally supported palliative care. OBJECTIVES:Conduct a qualitative study examining patient, social convoy, and health care provider perspectives on digital health for palliative care to inform the design of future digital solutions for older adults with serious illness and their social convoy. METHODS:Grounded theory approach using semi-structured interviews (N = 81) with interprofessional health care providers, older adults with serious illness, and their social convoy participants at home, clinic, or Zoom. Interviews were conducted using question guides relevant to the participant group and audio-recorded for verbatim transcription. Two coders lead the inductive analysis using open and axial coding. RESULTS:Thematic results aligned with the human-centered design framework, which is a participatory approach to the design process that incorporates multiple user stakeholders to develop health solutions. The human-centered design process and corresponding theme included the following: 1) Empathy: Patient, Caregiver, and Provider Experience reports participants' experience with managing serious illness, caregiving, social support, and technology use. 2) Define: Reactions to Evidence-Based Care Concepts and Barriers illustrates participants' perspectives on the domains of palliative care ranging from symptom management to psychosocial-spiritual care. 3) Ideation: Desired Features reports participant recommendations for designing digital health tools for palliative care domains. CONCLUSION:Digital health provides an opportunity to expand the reach of geriatric palliative care interventions. This paper documents human-centered preferences of geriatric palliative care digital health to ensure technologies are relevant and meaningful to health care providers, patients, and the caregiving social convoy.