Restricting Symptoms in the Last Year of Life A Prospective Cohort Study
ABSTRACT IMPORTANCE Freedom from symptoms is an important determinant of a good death, but little is known about symptom occurrence during the last year of life. OBJECTIVE To evaluate the monthly occurrence of physical and psychological symptoms leading to restrictions in daily activities (ie, restricting symptoms) among older persons during the last year of life and to determine the associations of demographic and clinical factors with symptom occurrence. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Prospective cohort study. Comprehensive assessments were completed every 18 months, and monthly interviews were conducted to assess the presence of restricting symptoms. Of 1002 nondisabled community-dwelling individuals 70 years or older in greater New Haven, Connecticut, eligible to participate, 754 agreed and were enrolled between 1998 and 1999. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES The primary outcome was the monthly occurrence of restricting symptoms as a dichotomous outcome. The monthly mean count of restricting symptoms was a secondary outcome. RESULTS Among the 491 participants who died after their first interview and before June 30, 2011, mean age at death was 85.8 years, 61.9% were women, and 9.0% were nonwhite. The mean number of comorbid conditions was 2.4, and 73.1% had multimorbidity. The monthly occurrence of restricting symptoms was fairly constant from 12 months before death (20.4%) until 5 months before death (27.4%), when it began to increase rapidly, reaching 57.2% in the month before death. In multivariable analysis, age younger than 85 years (odds ratio [OR], 1.30 [95% CI, 1.07-1.57]), multimorbidity (OR, 1.38 [95% CI, 1.09-1.75]), and proximity to time of death (OR, 1.14 per month [95% CI, 1.11-1.16]) were significantly associated with the monthly occurrence of restricting symptoms. Participants who died of cancer had higher monthly symptom occurrence (OR, 1.80 [95% CI, 1.03-3.14]) than participants who died of sudden death, although this difference was only marginally significant (P = .04). Symptom burden did not otherwise differ substantially according to condition leading to death. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Restricting symptoms are common during the last year of life, increasing substantially approximately 5 months before death. Our results highlight the importance of assessing and managing symptoms in older patients, particularly those with multimorbidity.
Full-textDOI: · Available from: Heather G Allore, Jul 23, 2014
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ABSTRACT: Among older persons, disability in activities of daily living is common and highly morbid. The Precipitating Events Project (PEP Study), an ongoing longitudinal study of 754 initially nondisabled, community-living persons, aged 70 or older, was designed to further elucidate the epidemiology of disability, with the goal of informing the development of effective interventions to maintain and restore independent function. Over the past 16 years, participants have completed comprehensive, home-based assessments at 18-month intervals and have been interviewed monthly to reassess their functional status and ascertain intervening events, other health care utilization, and deaths. Findings from the PEP Study have demonstrated that the disabling process for many older persons is characterized by multiple and possibly interrelated disability episodes, even over relatively short periods of time, and that disability often results when an intervening event is superimposed upon a vulnerable host. Given the frequency of assessments, long duration of follow-up, and recent linkage to Medicare data, the PEP Study will continue to be an outstanding platform for disability research in older persons. In addition, as the number of decedents accrues, the PEP Study will increasingly become a valuable resource for investigating symptoms, function, and health care utilization at the end of life.The Gerontologist 08/2014; 54(4):533-49. DOI:10.1093/geront/gnu067 · 2.48 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We undertook a study to identify distinct functional trajectories in the year before hospice, to determine how patients with these trajectories differ according to demographic characteristics and hospice diagnosis, and to evaluate the association between these trajectories and subsequent outcomes. From an ongoing cohort study of 754 community-living persons aged 70 years or older, we evaluated data on 213 persons who were subsequently enrolled in hospice from March 1998 to December 2011. Disability in 13 basic, instrumental, and mobility activities was assessed during monthly telephone interviews through June 2012. In the year before hospice, we identified 5 clinically distinct functional trajectories, representing worsening cumulative burden of disability: late decline (10.8%), accelerated (10.8%), moderate (21.1%), progressively severe (24.9%), and persistently severe (32.4%). Participants with a cancer diagnosis (34.7%) had the most favorable functional trajectories (ie, lowest burden of disability), whereas those with neurodegenerative disease (21.1%) had the worst. Median survival in hospice was only 14 days and did not differ significantly by functional trajectory. Compared with participants in the persistently severe trajectory, those in the moderate trajectory had the highest likelihood of surviving and being independent in at least 1 activity in the month after hospice admission (adjusted odds ratio = 5.5; 95% CI, 1.9-35.9). The course of disability in the year before hospice differs greatly among older persons but is particularly poor among those with neurodegenerative disease. Late admission to hospice (as shown by the short survival), coupled with high levels of severe disability before hospice, highlight potential unmet palliative care needs for many older persons at the end of life. © 2015 Annals of Family Medicine, Inc.The Annals of Family Medicine 01/2015; 13(1):33-40. DOI:10.1370/afm.1720 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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