A pilot trial of decision aids to give truthful prognostic and treatment information to chemotherapy patients with advanced cancer
ABSTRACT Most cancer patients do not have an explicit discussion about prognosis and treatment despite documented adverse outcomes. Few decision aids have been developed to assist the difficult discussions of palliative management. We developed decision aids for people with advanced in curable breast, colorectal, lung, and hormone-refractory prostate cancers facing first-, second-, third-, and fourth-line chemotherapy. We recruited patients from our urban oncology clinic after gaining the permission of their treating oncologist. We measured knowledge of curability and treatment benefit before and after the intervention. Twenty-six of 27 (96%) patients completed the aids, with ameanage of 63, 56% female, 56% married, 56% African American, and 67% with a high school education or more. Most patients (14/27, 52%) thought a person with their advanced cancer could be cured, which was reduced (to 8/26, 31%, P = 0.15) after the decision aid. Nearly all overestimated the effect of palliative chemotherapy. No distress was noted, and hope did not change. The majority (20/27, 74%) found the information helpful to them, and almost all (25/27, 93%) wanted to share the information with their family and physicians. It is possible to give incurable patients their prognosis, treatment options, and options for improving end-of-life care without causing distress or lack of hope. Almost all find the information helpful and want to share it with doctors and family. Research is needed to test the findings in a larger sample and measure the outcomes of truthful information on quality of life, quality of care, and costs.
- SourceAvailable from: medpagetoday.comNew England Journal of Medicine 05/2011; 364(21):2060-5. DOI:10.1056/NEJMsb1013826 · 54.42 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: This review updates the literature on hope and oncology following a prior review of studies up until 2009. It particularly focusses on the evolution of the definition of hope in the light of the clinical experience of patients with cancer, their carers and health professionals. Hope creates meaning for patients and is an important coping mechanism. Clinicians are wary of communicating bad news because it may deprive patients of hope, but work with decision aids suggests that this communication can be managed successfully. Hope and optimism negatively correlate with anxiety and depression. Maintaining hope may result in patients with incurable cancer accepting treatments or trials with little chance of benefit. Hope also needs to be maintained by palliative care nurses who harmonize their hopes with the different degrees and constructs of hope around them. Hope interventions can be successful in increasing hope and decreasing psychological distress. More research is required into how to communicate about active anticancer treatment withdrawal and prognosis without depriving patients with cancer of hope, given how important hope is in alleviating psychological distress. The optimal intervention to increase levels of hope needs further investigation.Current opinion in supportive and palliative care 03/2012; 6(2):236-41. DOI:10.1097/SPC.0b013e3283528d0c
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ABSTRACT: The purpose of this review is to give an overview of challenges that have been addressed in recent research in end-of-life communication. Diversity of difficulties that may occur in communication about end-of-life issues has been showed. The emotional quality of this communication requires special skills from professionals involved. Studies showed that physicians and medical students are often overstrained and avoid end-of-life discussions. Health professionals and patients are often ambivalent about end-of-life discussions. Nevertheless, professionals are expected to initiate these in an honest, needs-oriented way. Patient preferences are difficult to infer and have to be assessed explicitly and regularly. Studies showed that the emotional impact of end-of-life discussions can lead to a high burden or avoidance of professionals. Interdisciplinary, multi-professional work can support health professionals in end-of-life care but often structural barriers obstruct possible benefits. Health professionals need to initiate end-of-life communication in a sensitive way. Specific demands for health professionals in end-of-life communication are to differentiate own emotions and life events from those of patients and to deal with both adequately. Moreover, structural aspects can lead to difficulties between different specialties, professions and sectors, which can have a negative impact on adequate care for patient and relatives. Special efforts for improvement are needed.Current opinion in supportive and palliative care 08/2012; 6(3):355-64. DOI:10.1097/SPC.0b013e328356ab72