Bolstering General Practitioner Palliative Care: A Critical Review of Support Provided by Australian Guidelines for Life-Limiting Chronic Conditions.
ABSTRACT: General practitioners (GPs) are increasingly expected to provide palliative care as ageing populations put pressure on specialist services. Some GPs, however, cite barriers to providing this care including prognostication challenges and lack of confidence. Palliative care content within clinical practice guidelines might serve as an opportunistic source of informational support to GPs. This review analysed palliative care content within Australian guidelines for life-limiting conditions to determine the extent to which it might satisfy GPs' stated information needs and support them to provide quality end-of-life care. Six databases and guideline repositories were searched (2011-2018). Eligible guidelines were those for a GP audience and explicitly based on an appraisal of all available evidence. Content was mapped against an established palliative care domain framework (PEPSI-COLA) and quality was assessed using AGREE-II. The nine guidelines meeting inclusion criteria were heterogenous in scope and depth of palliative care domain coverage. The 'communication' needs domain was best addressed while patient physical and emotional needs were variably covered. Spiritual, out-of-hours, terminal care and aftercare content was scant. Few guidelines addressed areas GPs are known to find challenging or acknowledged useful decision-support tools. A template covering important domains might reduce content variability across guidelines.
Project description:Palliative care is mainly restricted to terminal care. General practitioners (GPs) are not trained to early identify palliative patients with cancer, COPD or heart failure. With the help of the RADboud indicators for PAlliative Care needs (RADPAC), we trained GPs to identify patients' needs and to make a proactive care plan. They were also able to join two role-plays where they discussed the patient's future, and consulted a palliative care consultant to fine-tune the care plan. We evaluated the programme with the GPs and consultants and noted its impact on their daily practice.Two years after they had participated in the programme, we held semi-structured interviews with the GPs and a focus group interview with the consultants and performed a thematic content analysis.Six consultants and nine GPs participated in the programme. Most GPs and consultants mentioned positive changes in the thinking or acting of GPs regarding early palliative care. A number continued to use the tool to identify patients; most of the others noted they had internalised the indicators. Although half of them still considered discussing end-of-life aspects difficult, particularly in patients with organ failure, the others were more easily able to discuss the future with their palliative patients.Although most GPs and consultants were positive about the training programme and applying it in daily practice, we conclude that in future programmes, more attention needs to paid to timely identification of palliative patients with COPD or CHF and how to discuss the future with them.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>To deliver optimal palliative care, a Care Pathway for Primary Palliative Care (CPPPC) was developed. This CPPPC was implemented by general practitioners (GPs) in territories of five Belgian palliative care networks (2014-2016). Belgian doctors have much therapeutic freedom, and do not commonly follow guidelines.<h4>Objectives</h4>To assess how palliative care was provided by GPs before the CPPPC and its implementation project were presented publicly.<h4>Methods</h4>Between 2013 and 2015, seven focus groups with GPs were conducted. Participants included 15 GPs in three French-speaking focus groups and 26 GPs in four Dutch-speaking focus groups, with diversity for age, gender, palliative care experience and practice context. Some GPs implemented the CPPPC later.<h4>Results</h4>GPs considered each palliative care case unique and disliked strict protocols. However, they expressed a need for peer review and reflective frameworks. GPs felt it is important to identify palliative care patients 'timely', but found this difficult. Screening methods help, but are not widely used. GPs struggled most with identifying palliative care needs in non-oncological patients. Bad news breaking was considered difficult. Continuity of care was considered very important. However, advance care planning seemed more widely practised by Dutch-speaking GPs than by French-speaking GPs. The taboo of palliative care provoked emotional discussions.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Palliative care frameworks which help GPs to deliver 'tailor-made' care have more chance to be adopted than strict protocols. GPs should be given education for bad news breaking. Palliative care and advance care planning practices differ locally: guideline dissemination plans should respect these local differences.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Most patients in end-of-life with life-threatening diseases prefer to be cared for and die at home. Nevertheless, the majority die in hospitals. GPs have a pivotal role in providing end-of-life care at patients' home, and their involvement in the palliative trajectory enhances the patient's possibility to stay at home. The aim of this study was to develop and pilot-test an intervention consisting of continuing medical education (CME) and electronic decision support (EDS) to support end-of-life care in general practice. METHODS:We developed an intervention in line with the first phases of the guidelines for complex interventions drawn up by the Medical Research Council. Phase 1 involved the development of the intervention including identification of key barriers to provision of end-of-life care for GPs and of facilitators of change. Furthermore the actual modelling of two components: CME meeting and EDS. Phase 2 focused on pilot-testing and intervention assessment by process evaluation. RESULTS:In phase 1 lack of identification of patients at the end of life and limited palliative knowledge among GPs were identified as barriers. The CME meeting and the EDS were developed. The CME meeting was a four-hour educational meeting performed by GPs and specialists in palliative care. The EDS consisted of two parts: a pop-up window for each patient with palliative needs and a list of all patients with palliative needs in the practice. The pilot testing in phase 2 showed that the CME meeting was performed as intended and 120 (14%) of the GPs in the region attended. The EDS was integrated in existing electronic records but was shut down early for external reasons; 50 (5%) GPs signed up. The pilot-testing demonstrated a need to strengthen the implementation as attending rate was low in the current set-up. CONCLUSION:We developed a complex intervention to support GPs in providing end-of-life care. The pilot-test showed general acceptance of the CME meetings. The EDS was shut down early and needs further evaluation before examining the whole intervention in a larger study, where evaluation could be based on patient-related outcomes and impact on end-of-life care. TRIAL REGISTRATION:Clinicaltrials.gov ( NCT02050256 ) January 30, 2014.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Little is known about how GPs determine whether and when patients need palliative care. Little research has been done regarding the assumption underpinning Lynn and Adamson's model that palliative care may start early in the course of the disease. This study was conducted to explore how GPs identify a need for palliative care in patients.<h4>Methods</h4>A qualitative interview study was performed among 20 GPs in the Netherlands.<h4>Results</h4>GPs reported that a combination of several signals, often subtle and not explicit, made them identify a need for palliative care: signals from patients (increasing care dependency and not recuperating after intercurrent diseases) and signals from relatives or reports from medical specialists. GPs reported differences in how they identified a need for palliative care in cancer patients versus those with other diseases. In cancer patients, the need for palliative care was often relatively clear because of a relatively strict demarcation between the curative and palliative phase. However, in patients with e.g. COPD or in the very old, GPs' awareness of palliative care needs often arises gradually, relatively late in the disease trajectory.GPs consider the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness as a key point in the disease trajectory. However, this does not automatically mean that a patient needs palliative care at that point.<h4>Conclusions</h4>GPs recognize a need for palliative care on the basis of various signals. They do not support the idea underlying Lynn and Adamson's model that palliative care always starts early in the course of the disease.
Project description:BACKGROUND:End of life (EoL) care becomes more complex and increasingly takes place in the community, but there is little data on the use of general practice (GP) services to guide care improvement. This study aims to determine the trends and factors associated with GP consultation, prescribing and referral to other care services amongst cancer patients in the last year of life. METHODS:A retrospective cohort study of cancer patients who died in 2000-2014, based on routinely collected primary care data (the Clinical Practice Research DataLink, CPRD) covering a representative sample of the population in the United Kingdom. Outcome variables were number of GP consultations (primary), number of prescriptions and referral to other care services (yes vs no) in the last year of life. Explanatory variables included socio-demographics, clinical characteristics and the status of palliative care needs recognised or not. The association between outcome and explanatory variables were evaluated using multiple-adjusted risk ratio (aRR). RESULTS:Of 68,523 terminal cancer patients, 70% were aged 70+, 75% had comorbidities and 45.5% had palliative care needs recognised. In the last year of life, a typical cancer patient had 43 GP consultations (Standard deviation (SD): 31.7; total?=?3,031,734), 71.5 prescriptions (SD: 68.0; total?=?5,074,178), and 21(SD: 13.0) different drugs; 58.0% of patients had at least one referral covering all main clinical specialities. More comorbid conditions, prostate cancer and having palliative care needs recognised were associated with more primary care consultations, more prescriptions and a higher chance of referral (aRRs 1.07-2.03). Increasing age was related to fewer consultations (aRRs 0.77-0.96), less prescriptions (aRR 1.09-1.44), and a higher chance of referral (aRRs 1.08-1.16) but less likely to have palliative care needs recognised (aRRs 0.53-0.89). CONCLUSIONS:GPs are very involved in end of life care of cancer patients, most of whom having complex care needs, i.e. older age, comorbidity and polypharmacy. This highlights the importance of enhancing primary palliative care skills among GPs and the imperative of greater integration of primary care with other healthcare professionals including oncologists, palliative care specialists, geriatricians and pharmacists. Research into the potential of deprescribing is warranted. Older patients have poorer access to both primary care and palliative care need to be addressed in future practices.
Project description:<h4>Context</h4>Palliative care should be a component of COVID-19 management to relieve suffering, improve patient outcomes and save cost.<h4>Objectives</h4>We aimed to identify and critically appraise the palliative care recommendations within COVID-19 case management guidelines in African countries.<h4>Methods</h4>The study employed systematic guideline review design. All guidelines from any country in Africa, of any language, published between December 2019 and June 2020 were retrieved through online search and email to in-country key contacts. We conducted a content analysis of the palliative care recommendations within the guidelines and appraised the recommendations using African Palliative Care Association standards for providing quality palliative care.<h4>Results</h4>We retrieved documents from 29 of 54 African countries. Fifteen documents from 15 countries were included in the final analysis, of which eight countries have identifiable PC recommendations in their COVID-19 management guidelines. Of these eight, only one country (South Sudan) provided comprehensive palliative care recommendations covering the domains of physical, psychological, social and spiritual wellbeing, two (Namibia and Uganda) addressed only physical and psychological wellbeing while the remaining five countries addressed only physical symptom management.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Comprehensive palliative care which addresses physical, psychological, social and spiritual concerns must be prioritized within case management guidelines in African countries.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Difficulties in identifying patients at risk of clinical deterioration or death represent one of the main barriers to Palliative Care (PC) development in the community. Currently, no specific Italian tools aimed at identifying patients with PC needs are available. Of the different European tools available, the SPICT™ can be used easily in any kind of setting and does not include the Surprise Question. The purpose of the study was to translate, cross-culturally adapt and pre-test the Italian version of the SPICT™. METHODS:The Beaton recommendations for the cross-cultural adaptation of instruments were followed. Content validity was assessed using the Lynn method. A sample of Italian General Practitioners (GPs) assessed the SPICT-IT™ for feasibility and tested it. RESULTS:During the cross-cultural adaptation, some issues regarding semantic, experiential, idiomatic and conceptual equivalences were raised and resolved. The Scale-Content Validity Index/Ave was 0.86. Of the 907 GPs included in the sample, 71 (7.8%) agreed to test the SPICT-IT™ and to assess its feasibility. The participants provided care for 73,526 people in the community. Of these people, 1.7% (N?=?1303) were identified as being in need of PC according to the SPICT-IT™. Sixty-six (93.0%) GPs stated they would use the SPICT-IT™ in their daily clinical practice. CONCLUSIONS:The SPICT-IT™ demonstrated acceptable content validity. The percentage of patients identified through the SPICT-IT™ was comparable to findings from literature. The next phase of this project will investigate the impact of a proactive training programme aimed at supporting GPs in identifying patients with PC needs and delivering appropriate Primary Palliative Care (PPC).
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Palliative patients have to cope with their disease and impending death. Knowing what this means for a patient is crucial for person-centred care. Although guidelines state it is a GP core task to explore existential issues of palliative patients, this is not standard practice.<h4>Aim</h4>Exploring Dutch GPs' perceived role regarding addressing the existential dimension of palliative patients, and which vocabulary GPs use when doing this.<h4>Design and setting</h4>Qualitative study amongst Dutch GPs. Participants were recruited by purposive sampling and snowballing, considering gender, working experience and ideological personal beliefs.<h4>Method</h4>Semi-structured in-depth interviews were performed, transcribed and analysed using content analysis.<h4>Results</h4>Seventeen GPs participated. Three themes were identified: Language, Perceived role and Practice. Interviewees generally saw it as their role to pay attention to the existential dimension of palliative patients. However, not all knew how to define this role, or how to refer patients with existential struggles to a spiritual counsellor. The multidisciplinary Dutch guideline 'Existential and Spiritual Aspects of Palliative Care' seemed largely unknown. Interviewees mostly fulfilled their role in an intuitive, pragmatic way. Questions such as "What does it mean for you to be seriously ill?" or "Do you have support from someone or something?" fitted daily practice.<h4>Conclusion</h4>This study emphasizes the importance of basic GP education in exploring existential issues. The coexistence of a professionally obliged attention and an intuitive approach seems to be in conflict. We recommend appropriate training for GPs, research on the potential enhancement of collaboration between GPs and spiritual counsellors and implementation of the relevant guideline on well-known platforms.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Palliative care should be holistic, but spiritual issues are often overlooked. General practitioners and nurses working together in PaTz-groups (palliative home care groups) consider spiritual issues in palliative care to be relevant, but experience barriers in addressing spiritual issues and finding spiritual caregivers. This study evaluates the feasibility and perceived added value of a listening consultation service by spiritual caregivers in primary palliative care. METHODS:From December 2018 until September 2019, we piloted a listening consultation service in which spiritual caregivers joined 3 PaTz-groups whose members referred patients or their relatives with spiritual care needs to them. Evaluation occurred through (i) monitoring of the implementation, (ii) in-depth interviews with patients (n =?5) and involved spiritual caregivers (n = 5), (iii) short group interviews in 3 PaTz-groups (17 GPs, 10 nurses and 3 palliative consultants), and (iv) questionnaires filled out by the GP after each referral, and by the spiritual caregiver after each consultation. Data was analysed thematically and descriptively. RESULTS:Consultations mostly took place on appointment at the patients home instead of originally intended walk-in consultation hours. Consultations were most often with relatives (72%), followed by patients and relatives together (17%) and patients (11%). Relatives also had more consecutive consultations (mean 4.1 compared to 2.2 for patients). Consultations were on existential and relational issues, loss, grief and identity were main themes. Start-up of the referrals took more time and effort than expected. In time, several GPs of each PaTz-group referred patients to the spiritual caregiver. In general, consultations and joint PaTz-meetings were experienced as of added value. All patients and relatives as well as several GPs and nurses experienced more attention for and awareness of the spiritual domain. Patients and relatives particularly valued professional support of spiritual caregivers, as well as recognition of grief as an normal aspect of life. CONCLUSIONS:If sufficient effort is given to implementation, listening consultation services can be a good method for PaTz-groups to find and cooperate with spiritual caregivers, as well as for integrating spiritual care in primary palliative care. This may strengthen care in the spiritual domain, especially for relatives who are mourning.
Project description:<h4>Purpose</h4>Quality assessment is a critical component of determining the value of medical services, including palliative care. Characterization of the current portfolio of measures that assess the quality of palliative care delivered in oncology is necessary to identify gaps and inform future measure development.<h4>Methods</h4>We performed a systematic review of MEDLINE/PubMed and the gray literature for quality measures relevant to palliative care. Measures were categorized into National Quality Forum domains and reviewed for methodology of development and content. Measures were additionally analyzed to draw summative conclusions on scope and span.<h4>Results</h4>Two hundred eighty-four quality measures within 13 measure sets were identified. The most common domains for measure content were Physical Aspects of Care (35%) and Structure and Processes of Care (22%). Of symptom-related measures, pain (36%) and dyspnea (26%) were the most commonly addressed. Spiritual (4%) and Cultural (1%) Aspects of Care were least represented domains. Generally, measures addressed processes of care, did not delineate benchmarks for success, and often did not specify intended interventions to address unmet needs. This was most evident regarding issues of psychosocial and spiritual assessment and management.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Within a large cohort of quality measures for palliative, care is often a focus on physical manifestations of disease and adverse effects of therapy; relatively little attention is given to the other aspects of suffering commonly observed among patients with advanced cancer, including psychological, social, and spiritual distress.