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Journal: BMC palliative care


BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to determine factors associated with the severity of cancer related fatigue (CRF) and predictors of improvement of CRF at the first follow-up visit in patients with advanced cancer referred to outpatient palliative care clinic (OPC). METHODS: We reviewed the records of consecutive patients with advanced cancer presenting to OPC. Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) scores were obtained at the initial and subsequent visits between January 2003 and December 2008. All patients received interdisciplinary care led by palliative medicine specialists following an institutional protocol. Fatigue improvement was defined as a reduction of >=2 points in ESAS score relative to the baseline. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize patient characterstics. Univariate analyses were performed and only significant variables were included in multivariate regression analysis to determine factors associated with severity and improvement in CRF. RESULTS: A total of 1778 evaluable patients were analyzed (median age, 59 years; 52% male). The median time between visits was 15 days. Median fatigue scores on the ESAS were 6 at baseline and 5 at follow-up. Severity of all ESAS items and low serum albumin were associated with fatigue at baseline (p < 0.0001). The improvement of fatigue was observed in 586 patients (33%). The hierarchical model showed that fatigue improved over time (b = -0.009; p = 0.0009). low appetite (odds ratio [OR] = 1.09 per point; p = 0.0113) and genitourinary cancer (OR = 1.74 per point; p = 0.0458) were significantly associated with improvement of fatigue. CONCLUSIONS: CRF is strongly associated with physical and emotional symptoms. Genitourinary cancer and low appetite at baseline were associated with successful improvement of fatigue.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Palliative care, Multivariate statistics, Symptomatic treatment, Palliative medicine


BACKGROUND: Home-based models of hospice and palliative care are promoted with the argument that most people prefer to die at home. We examined the heterogeneity in preferences for home death and explored, for the first time, changes of preference with illness progression. METHODS: We searched for studies on adult preferences for place of care at the end of life or place of death in MEDLINE (1966–2011), EMBASE (1980–2011), psycINFO (1967–2011), CINAHL (1982–2011), six palliative care journals (2006–11) and reference lists. Standard criteria were used to grade study quality and evidence strength. Scatter plots showed and percentage preferring home death amongst patients, lay caregivers and general public, by study quality, year, weighted by sample size. RESULTS: 210 studies reported preferences of just over 100,000 people from 34 countries, including 34,021 patients, 19,514 caregivers and 29,926 general public members. 68% of studies with quantitative data were of low quality; only 76 provided the question used to elicit preferences. There was moderate evidence that most people prefer a home death–this was found in 75% of studies, 9/14 of those of high quality. Amongst the latter and excluding outliers, home preference estimates ranged 31% to 87% for patients (9 studies), 25% to 64% for caregivers (5 studies), 49% to 70% for the public (4 studies). 20% of 1395 patients in 10 studies (2 of high quality) changed their preference, but statistical significance was untested. CONCLUSIONS: Controlling for methodological weaknesses, we found evidence that most people prefer to die at home. Around four fifths of patients did not change preference as their illness progressed. This supports focusing on home-based care for patients with advanced illness yet urges policy-makers to secure hospice and palliative care elsewhere for those who think differently or change their mind. Research must be clear on how preferences are elicited. There is an urgent need for studies examining change of preferences towards death.

Concepts: Palliative care, Change, Hospice, Preference


Understanding end of life preferences amongst the oldest old is crucial to informing appropriate palliative and end of life care internationally. However, little has been reported in the academic literature about the end of life preferences of people in advanced age, particularly the preferences of indigenous older people, including New Zealand Māori.

Concepts: Death, Middle age, Gerontology, Old age, Ageing, New Zealand, Geriatrics, Retirement


The terminally ill person’s autonomy and control are important in preserving the quality of life in situations of unbearable suffering. Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED) at the end of life has been discussed over the past 20 years as one possibility of hastening death. This article presents a ‘systematic search and review’ of published literature concerned with VSED as an option of hastening death at the end of life by adults with decision-making capacity.

Concepts: Death, Life, Gift


Palliative radiotherapy (PRT) can significantly improve quality of life for patients dying of cancer with bone metastases. However, an aggressive cancer treatment near end of life is an indicator of poor-quality care. But the optimal rate of overall palliative RT use near the end of life is still unknown. We sought to determine the patterns of palliative radiation therapy (RT) utilization in patients with bone metastases towards their end of life in a population-based, publicly funded health care system.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Ionizing radiation, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Prostate cancer, Radiation therapy, Melanoma


Family members are involved in the care of palliative patients at home and therefore, should be viewed as important sources of information to help clinicians better understand the quality palliative care service patients receive. The objective of the study was to analyse what is valued most by family carers undergoing bereavement of a palliative care home service in order to identify factors of quality of care.

Concepts: Family, Palliative care, Household, Care of residents, Order, Taxonomic rank, Nursing specialties


Global annual deaths are rising. It is essential to examine where future deaths may occur to facilitate decisions regarding future service provision and resource allocation.


Recent concerns about suboptimal patient care and a lack of compassion have prompted policymakers to question the preparedness of clinicians for the challenging environment in which they practice. Compassionate care is expected by patients and is a professional obligation of clinicians; however, little is known about the state of research on clinical compassion. The purpose of this scoping review was to map the literature on compassion in clinical healthcare.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Patient, Hospital, Illness, Doctor-patient relationship


Understanding physical and psycho-social illness trajectories towards the end of life can help in the planning of palliative and supportive care. With terminal patients increasingly seeking and sharing health information and support via social media, it is timely to examine whether these trajectories are reflected in their digital narratives. In this exploratory study, we analysed the Twitter feed of prominent cancer sufferer and physician, Kate Granger, over the final 6 months of her life.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Patient, Palliative care, Physician, Illness, English-language films, Twitter


Advance care planning (ACP) is a continuous, dynamic process of reflection and dialogue between an individual, those close to them and their healthcare professionals, concerning the individual’s preferences and values concerning future treatment and care, including end-of-life care. Despite universal recognition of the importance of ACP for people with dementia, who gradually lose their ability to make informed decisions themselves, ACP still only happens infrequently, and evidence-based recommendations on when and how to perform this complex process are lacking. We aimed to develop evidence-based clinical recommendations to guide professionals across settings in the practical application of ACP in dementia care.