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1.  Complexity in Non-Pharmacological Caregiving Activities at the End of Life: An International Qualitative Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(2):e1001173.
In a qualitative study reported by Olav Lindqvist and colleagues, the range of nonpharmacological caregiving activities used in the last days of a patient's life are described.
Background
In late-stage palliative cancer care, relief of distress and optimized well-being become primary treatment goals. Great strides have been made in improving and researching pharmacological treatments for symptom relief; however, little systematic knowledge exists about the range of non-pharmacological caregiving activities (NPCAs) staff use in the last days of a patient's life.
Methods and Findings
Within a European Commission Seventh Framework Programme project to optimize research and clinical care in the last days of life for patients with cancer, OPCARE9, we used a free-listing technique to identify the variety of NPCAs performed in the last days of life. Palliative care staff at 16 units in nine countries listed in detail NPCAs they performed over several weeks. In total, 914 statements were analyzed in relation to (a) the character of the statement and (b) the recipient of the NPCA. A substantial portion of NPCAs addressed bodily care and contact with patients and family members, with refraining from bodily care also described as a purposeful caregiving activity. Several forms for communication were described; information and advice was at one end of a continuum, and communicating through nonverbal presence and bodily contact at the other. Rituals surrounding death and dying included not only spiritual/religious issues, but also more subtle existential, legal, and professional rituals. An unexpected and hitherto under-researched area of focus was on creating an aesthetic, safe, and pleasing environment, both at home and in institutional care settings.
Conclusions
Based on these data, we argue that palliative care in the last days of life is multifaceted, with physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and existential care interwoven in caregiving activities. Providing for fundamental human needs close to death appears complex and sophisticated; it is necessary to better distinguish nuances in such caregiving to acknowledge, respect, and further develop end-of-life care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
End-of-life care is a major public health issue, yet despite the inevitability of death, issues related to death and dying are often taboo, and, if mentioned, are often referred to as “palliative care.” There are detailed definitions of palliative care, but in essence, the purpose of palliative care is to relieve any suffering in patients who are dying from progressive illness and to provide the best possible quality of life for both the patient and his or her family. In order to achieve this aim, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological management is necessary, with the latter taking a central role. Recently, a European Commission Seventh Framework Programme project, OPCARE9, aimed to improve the care of dying patients in Europe and beyond by optimizing research and clinical care for patients with cancer in the last days of their life, especially regarding well-being and comfort as death becomes imminent.
Why Was This Study Done?
There is now a growing literature base in non-pharmacological management at the end of an individual's life, particularly in relation to psychological, ethical, and communication issues as well as family-focused and culturally appropriate care. Despite this progress, there is currently little systematic knowledge in how health workers use such non-pharmacological approaches in their efforts to maximize well-being and comfort in patients experiencing their very last days of life. Therefore, in order to advance knowledge in this important clinical area, in this study the researchers reviewed and identified the variety of non-pharmacological caregiving activities performed by different professionals in the last days and hours of life for patients with cancer (and their families) in palliative care settings in the countries that participated in OPCARE9.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers modified an anthropological approach to collect relevant information in participating European countries—Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK—and Argentina and New Zealand. Staff in palliative care settings generated a list of non-pharmacological caregiving activities after discussion about which interventions and activities they carried out with patients and families during the last days of life. This preliminary list of statements was added to if staff performed a new activity when in contact with patients or the patients' family during the last days of life. The researchers then used computer-assisted qualitative data analysis to code the statements.
Using this methodology, the researchers analyzed 914 statements of caregiving activities from 16 different facilities in nine countries. The greatest number of activities described some type of caregiving for an individual carried out through contact with his or her body, such as attending to diverse bodily needs (such as cleaning and moisturizing) while maintaining comfort and dignity. Listening, talking with, and understanding (particularly between professionals and the family) was the next most frequent activity, followed by creating an esthetical, safe, and pleasing environment for the dying person and his or her family, and necessary “backstage” activities, such as organizing paperwork or care plans. Other common activities included observing and assessing, which were often described as being carried out simultaneously with other interventions; just being present (described as increasingly important close to death); performing rituals surrounding death and dying (usually directed to families); guiding and facilitating (encompassing support in a compassionate manner); and finally, giving oral and written information and advice (usually to families).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that providing for fundamental human needs close to death is complex and sophisticated but ultimately integrated into a common theme of caregiving. This study also identifies a number of areas needing further investigation, such as enhancing the sensory and general environment for the patient and family. Finally, this study suggests that developing a greater level of detail, such as improved terminology for end-of-life care, would enhance appreciation of the nuances and complexity present in non-pharmacological care provision during the last days of life, with potential benefit for clinical practice, teaching, and research.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001173.
The OPCARE9 website details more information about this end-of-life care initiative
The World Health Organization website defines palliative care, and Wikipedia gives more information (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
NHS Choices also provides information about end-of-life care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001173
PMCID: PMC3279347  PMID: 22347815
2.  A self-evaluation tool for integrated care services: the Development Model for Integrated Care applied in practice 
Purpose
The purpose of the workshop is to show the applications of the Development Model for Integrated Care (DMIC) in practice. This relatively new and validated model, can be used by integrated care practices to evaluate their integrated care, to assess their phase of development and reveal improvement areas. In the workshop the results of the use of the model in three types of integrated care settings in the Netherlands will be presented. Participants are offered practical instruments based on the validated DMIC to use in their own setting and will be introduced to the webbased tool.
Context
To integrate care from multiple providers into a coherent and streamlined client-focused service, a large number of activities and agreements have to be implemented like streamlining information flows and adequate transfers of clients. In the large range of possible activities it is often not clear what essential activities are and where to start or continue. Also, knowledge about how to further develop integrated care services is needed. The Development Model for Integrated Care (DMIC), based on PhD research of Mirella Minkman, describes nine clusters containing in total 89 elements that contribute to the integration of care. The clusters are named: ‘client-centeredness’, ‘delivery system’, ‘performance management’, ‘quality of care’, ‘result-focused learning’, ‘interprofessional teamwork’, ‘roles and tasks’, ‘commitment’, and ‘transparant entrepreneurship’ [1–3]. In 2011 a new digital webbased self-evolution tool which contains the 89 elements grouped in nine clusters was developed. The DMIC also describes four phases of development [4]. The model is empirically validated in practice by assessing the relevance and implementation of the elements and development phases in 84 integrated care services in The Netherlands: in stroke, acute myocardial infarct (AMI), and dementia services. The validation studies are recently published [5, 6]. In 2011 also other integrated care services started using the model [7]. Vilans developed a digital web-based self-evaluation tool for integrated care services based on the DMIC. A palliative care network, four diabetes services, a youth care service and a network for autism used the self-evaluation tool to evaluate the development of their integrated care service. Because of its generic character, the model and tool are believed to be also interesting internationally.
Data sources
In the workshop we will present the results of three studies in integrated diabetes, youth and palliative care. The three projects consist of multiple steps, see below. Workshop participants could also work with the DMIC following these steps.
One: Preparation of the digital self-evolution tool for integrated care services
Although they are very different, the three integrated care services all wanted to gain insight in their development and improvement opportunities. We tailored the digital self-evaluation tool for each specific integrated care services, but for all the basis was the DMIC. Personal accounts for the digital DMIC self-evalution survey were sent to multiple partners working in each integrated care service (4–16 partners).
Two: Use of the online self-evaluation tool each partner of the local integrated care setting evaluated the integrated care by filling in the web-based questionnaire. The tool consists of three parts (A-C) named: general information about the integrated care practice (A); the clusters and elements of the DMIC (B); and the four phases of development (C). The respondents rated the relevance and presence of each element in their integrated care practice. Respondents were asked to estimate in which phase of development their thought their service was.
Three: Analysing the results
Advisers from Vilans, the Centre of excellence for long-term care in the Netherlands, analysed the self-evolution results in cooperation with the integrated care coordinators. The results show the total amount of implemented integrated care elements per cluster in spider graphs and the development phase as calculated by the DMIC model. Suggestions for further development of the integrated care services were analysed and reported.
Four: Discussing the implications for further development
In a workshop with the local integrated care partners the results of the self-evaluation were presented and discussed. We noticed remarkable results and highlight elements for further development. In addition, we gave advice for further development appropriate to the development phase of the integrated care service. Furthermore, the professionals prioritized the elements and decided which elements to start working on. This resulted in a (quality improvement) plan for the further development of the integrated care service.
Five: Reporting results
In a report all the results of the survey (including consensus scores) and the workshops came together. The integrated care coordinators stated that the reports really helped them to assess their improvement strategy. Also, there was insight in the development phase of their service which gave tools for further development.
Case description
The three cases presented are a palliative network, an integrated diabetes services and an integrated care network for youth in the Netherlands. The palliative care network wanted to reflect on their current development, to build a guiding framework for further development of the network. About sixteen professionals within the network worked with the digital self-evaluation tool and the DMIC: home care organisations, welfare organizations, hospice centres, health care organisations, community organizations.
For diabetes care, a Dutch health care insurance company wished to gain insight in the development of the contracted integrated care services to stimulate further development of the services. Professionals of three diabetes integrated care services were invited to fill in the digital self-evaluation tool. Of each integrated care service professionals like a general practitioner, a diabetes nurse, a medical specialist, a dietician and a podiatrist were invited. In youth care, a local health organisation wondered whether the DMIC could be helpful to visualize the results of youth integrated care services at process- and organisational level. The goal of the project was to define indicators at a process- and organisational level for youth care services based on the DMIC. In the future, these indicators might be used to evaluate youth care integrated care services and improve the quality of youth care within the Netherlands.
Conclusions and discussion
It is important for the quality of integrated care services that the involved coordinators, managers and professionals are aware of the development process of the integrated care service and that they focus on elements which can further develop and improve their integrated care. However, we noticed that integrated care services in the Netherlands experience difficulties in developing their integrated care service. It is often not clear what essential activities are to work on and how to further develop the integrated care service. A guiding framework for the development of integrated care was missing. The DMIC model has been developed for that reason and offers a useful tool for assessment, self-evaluation or improvement of integrated care services in practice. The model has been validated for AMI, dementia and stroke services. The latest new studies in diabetes, palliative care and youth care gave further insight in the generic character of the DMIC. Based on these studies it can be assumed that the DMIC can be used for multiple types of integrated care services. The model is assumed to be interesting for an international audience. Improving integrated care is a complex topic in a large number of countries; the DMIC is also based on the international literature. Dutch integrated care coordinators stated that the DMIC helped them to assess their integrated care development in practice and supported them in obtaining ideas for expanding and improving their integrated care activities.
The web-based self-evaluation tool focuses on a process- and organisational level of integrated care. Also, the self assessed development phase can be compared to the development phase as calculated by the DMIC tool. The cases showed this is fruitful input for discussions. When using the tool, the results can also be used in quality policy reports and improvement plans. The web-based tool is being tested at this moment in practice, but in San Marino we can present the latest webversion and demonstrate with a short video how to use the tool and model. During practical exercises in the workshop the participants will experience how the application of the DMIC can work for them in practice or in research. For integrated care researchers and policy makers, the DMIC questionnaire and tool is a promising method for further research and policy plans in integrated care.
PMCID: PMC3617779
development model for integrated care; development of integrated care services; implementation and improvement of integrated care; self evaluation
3.  Palliative Care Needs of Patients With Cancer Living in the Community 
Journal of Oncology Practice  2011;7(6):382-388.
The authors describe the current palliative care needs of a population of community-dwelling patients with advanced cancer who are not yet ready for transition to hospice.
Purpose:
With improved effectiveness of early detection and treatment, many patients with cancer are now living with advanced disease and associated symptoms. As cancer becomes a chronic illness, adequate attention to patients' symptoms and psychosocial needs in the community setting requires positioning of palliative care alongside cancer care. This article describes the current palliative care needs of a population of community-dwelling patients with advanced cancer who are not yet ready for transition to hospice.
Methods:
This secondary analysis used quality-monitoring data collected in three community-based palliative care organizations. Analyses focused on people with cancer-related diagnoses who were receiving palliative care during 2008 to 2011.
Results:
The analytic data set included 4,980 people, 10% of whom had cancer. Median age was 71 years. Forty-eight percent had been hospitalized at least once in the 6 months before palliative care referral. Forty-nine percent had a Palliative Performance Score (PPS) of 40% to 60%; 40% had PPS ≤ 30%. Although 81% had an estimated prognosis of ≤ 6 months, 58% were expected to live weeks to months. Thirty-three percent had no identified healthcare surrogate; 59% had no do-not-resuscitate order despite declining functional status and limited prognosis. Ninety-five percent reported ≥ 1 symptom, and 67% reported ≥ 3 symptoms; a substantial proportion did not receive treatment for symptoms.
Conclusions:
Patients referred to community-based palliative care experience multiple often-severe symptoms that have been insufficiently addressed. They tend to have declining performance status. Earlier palliative care intervention could improve outcomes but will require delivery models that better coordinate inpatient/outpatient oncology and community-based palliative care.
doi:10.1200/JOP.2011.000455
PMCID: PMC3219466  PMID: 22379422
4.  Understanding integrated care pathways in palliative care using realist evaluation: a mixed methods study protocol 
BMJ Open  2012;2(4):e001533.
Introduction
Policy- and evidence-based guidelines have highlighted the need for improved palliative and end-of-life care. However, there is still evidence of individuals dying undignified deaths with little pain control, therefore inflicting unnecessary suffering. New commissioning powers have enabled a 2-year pilot of an innovative integrated care pathway (ICP) designed to improve arrangements for individuals with life-limiting illnesses requiring palliative care. A novel feature of the ICP is its focus on palliative care over the last 6 months of life, aiming to intervene early to prepare for and ensure a good death. What is not known is if this pathway works, how it works and who it works for.
Methods and analysis
A realist evaluation and a complex analytical framework will investigate and discover context, mechanism and outcome conjectures and configurations of the ICP and thus facilitate exploration of how it works and who it works for. A mixed methods approach will be used with small sample sizes to capture the breadth of the ICP. Phase 1 will identify if the pathway works through analysis of NHS Morbidity Information Query and Export Syntax data, locality Death Audit data and the Quality of Dying and Death Questionnaire. Phase 2 employs soft systems methodology with data from focus groups with health professionals to identify how the pathway works. Phase 3 uses the Miller Behavioural Style Scale and interviews with palliative care patients and bereaved relatives to analyse communication in palliative care.
Ethics and dissemination
Ethical approval has been granted from the NHS local ethics committee (REC reference number: 11/NE/0318). Research & Development approval has been gained from four different trusts, and relevant voluntary organisations and the local council have been informed about the research. This protocol illustrates the complexity inherent in evaluating a palliative care ICP. Identification of whether the pathway works, how it works and who it works for will be beneficial to all practices and other care providers involved as it will give objective data on the impact of the ICP. Results will be disseminated throughout the study for continuous quality improvement of the ICP. Outcomes from each data collection phase will be disseminated separately if analysis warrants it; all data collection will be utilised in the realist evaluation. The research provides a potential for the dissemination of the pathway to other localities through the transferable knowledge it will generate, from its focus on the contexts that are crucial for successful implementation, the mechanisms that facilitate implementation and the outcomes achieved.
Article summary
Article focus
This article is a protocol of a realist evaluation of a palliative care ICP, which was developed in Primary Care by health practitioners. The ICP itself uses elements of long-term chronic illness care in order to provide holistic, supportive, high-quality palliative care. The focus of the article is to detail how the ICP will be evaluated, using a variety of data collection tools, which will identify contexts and mechanisms that lead to improved outcomes, thus taking the main focus away from just the outcomes alone. The identification of contexts and mechanisms for improved outcomes is known as realist evaluation and will provide a better knowledge of the essential conditions of effectiveness when the ICP is implemented in other localities.
Key messages
The key aim of this article is to detail the creation of a complex realist evaluation, which utilises a unique and varied methodological framework. It is hoped that through this article, others will understand the groundwork needed to set up and execute a realist evaluation.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The protocol details a complex evaluation of a unique palliative care ICP using a new and innovative methodology: realist evaluation.
Some may perceive the small sample sizes in the qualitative sections of the study as a weakness. However, the aim of the study is not to find a robust causal mechanism; this would be premature with an ICP in its infancy. The aim is to unpack the contexts and mechanisms that work in certain circumstances, from this conditions crucial for effectiveness can be highlighted, which are essential for implementation of the ICP in other localities.
The ICP involves 15 general practitioner practices, which collectively care for 80 300 patients. The study described will use Morbidity Information Query and Export Syntax and Death Audit data from all 15 practices and will conduct the other sections of research within selected practices, both rural and suburban.
Finally, palliative care is commonly misunderstood in the literature and in the field. This paper addresses this confusion and fills a gap in the literature.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001533
PMCID: PMC3391371  PMID: 22761292
5.  Guidelines for the Psychosocial and Bereavement Support of Family Caregivers of Palliative Care Patients 
Journal of Palliative Medicine  2012;15(6):696-702.
Abstract
Background
Support for family caregivers, including bereavement follow-up, is a core function of palliative care. Many caregivers acknowledge positive aspects associated with the role; however a considerable proportion will experience poor psychological, social, financial, spiritual, and physical well-being and some will suffer from complicated grief. Many family caregivers have unmet needs and would like more information, preparation, and support to assist them in the caregiving role. There is a shortage of evidence-based strategies to guide health professionals in providing optimal support while the caregiver is providing care and after the patient's death.
Purpose
To develop clinical practice guidelines for the psychosocial and bereavement support of family caregivers of palliative care patients.
Methods
(1) Literature review; (2) focus groups and structured interviews with key stakeholders within Australia; (3) national and international expert opinion to further develop and refine the guidelines using a modified Delphi process; and (4) endorsement of the guidelines from key palliative care, caregiver, and bereavement organizations (national and international).
Results
The guidelines were developed for multidisciplinary health care professionals and clinical services commonly involved in caring for adult patients receiving palliative care in a variety of care sites throughout Australia. These consensus-based guidelines have been endorsed key Australian and international organizations.
Conclusions
The guidelines may prove valuable for the international palliative care community and for generalist health care providers who occasionally care for palliative care patients. Research is recommended to explore the uptake, implementation, and effectiveness of the guidelines.
doi:10.1089/jpm.2011.0466
PMCID: PMC3362953  PMID: 22385026
6.  Effects of online palliative care training on knowledge, attitude and satisfaction of primary care physicians 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:37.
Background
The Spanish Palliative Care Strategy recommends an intermediate level of training for primary care physicians in order to provide them with knowledge and skills. Most of the training involves face-to-face courses but increasing pressures on physicians have resulted in fewer opportunities for provision of and attendance to this type of training. The effectiveness of on-line continuing medical education in terms of its impact on clinical practice has been scarcely studied. Its effect in relation to palliative care for primary care physicians is currently unknown, in terms of improvement in patient's quality of life and main caregiver's satisfaction. There is uncertainty too in terms of any potential benefits of asynchronous communication and interaction among on-line education participants, as well as of the effect of the learning process.
The authors have developed an on-line educational model for palliative care which has been applied to primary care physicians in order to measure its effectiveness regarding knowledge, attitude towards palliative care, and physician's satisfaction in comparison with a control group.
The effectiveness evaluation at 18 months and the impact on the quality of life of patients managed by the physicians, and the main caregiver's satisfaction will be addressed in a different paper.
Methods
Randomized controlled educational trial to compared, on a first stage, the knowledge and attitude of primary care physicians regarding palliative care for advanced cancer patients, as well as satisfaction in those who followed an on-line palliative care training program with tutorship, using a Moodle Platform vs. traditional education.
Results
169 physicians were included, 85 in the intervention group and 84 in the control group, of which five were excluded. Finally 82 participants per group were analyzed. There were significant differences in favor of the intervention group, in terms of knowledge (mean 4.6; CI 95%: 2.8 to 6.5 (p = 0.0001), scale range 0-33), confidence in symptom management (p = 0.02) and confidence in terms of communication (p = 0.038). Useful aspects were pointed out, as well as others to be improved in future applications. The satisfaction of the intervention group was high.
Conclusions
The results of this study show that there was a significant increase of knowledge of 14%-20% and a significant increase in the perception of confidence in symptom management and communication in the intervention group in comparison with the control group that received traditional methods of education in palliative care or no educational activity at all. The overall satisfaction with the intervention was good-very good for most participants.
This on-line educational model seems a useful tool for palliative care training in primary care physicians who have a high opinion about the integration of palliative care within primary care. The results of this study support the suggestion that learning effectiveness should be currently investigated comparing different Internet interventions, instead of Internet vs. no intervention.
Trial Registration
German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00000694
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-37
PMCID: PMC3123578  PMID: 21605381
palliative care; competency-based education; education continuing; medical informatics
7.  The transition experience of rural older persons with advanced cancer and their families: a grounded theory study 
Background
Transitions often occur suddenly and can be traumatic to both patients with advanced disease and their families. The purpose of this study was to explore the transition experience of older rural persons with advanced cancer and their families from the perspective of palliative home care patients, bereaved family caregivers, and health care professionals. The specific aims were to: (1) describe the experience of significant transitions experienced by older rural persons who were receiving palliative home care and their families and (2) develop a substantive theory of transitions in this population.
Methods
Using a grounded theory approach, 27 open-ended individual audio-taped interviews were conducted with six older rural persons with advanced cancer and 10 bereaved family caregivers. Four focus group interviews were conducted with 12 palliative care health care professionals. All interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded, and analyzed using Charmaz's constructivist grounded theory approach.
Results
Within a rural context of isolation, lack of information and limited accessibility to services, and values of individuality and community connectedness, older rural palliative patients and their families experienced multiple complex transitions in environment, roles/relationships, activities of daily living, and physical and mental health. Transitions disrupted the lives of palliative patients and their caregivers, resulting in distress and uncertainty. Rural palliative patients and their families adapted to transitions through the processes of "Navigating Unknown Waters". This tentative theory includes processes of coming to terms with their situation, connecting, and redefining normal. Timely communication, provision of information and support networks facilitated the processes.
Conclusion
The emerging theory provides a foundation for future research. Significant transitions identified in this study may serve as a focus for improving delivery of palliative and end of life care in rural areas. Improved understanding of the transitions experienced by advanced cancer palliative care patients and their families, as well as the psychological processes involved in adapting to the transitions, will help health care providers address the unique needs of this vulnerable population.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-9-5
PMCID: PMC2876144  PMID: 20420698
8.  Implementing a Palliative Care Trial in Advanced COPD: A Feasibility Assessment (The COPD IMPACT Study) 
Journal of Palliative Medicine  2013;16(1):67-73.
Abstract
Background
Patients and caregivers living with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have complex care needs and may benefit from palliative care intervention. Little is known about how best to implement and evaluate such initiatives.
Objectives
To determine the feasibility of: 1) implementing a customized home-based palliative care service for patients and caregivers living with advanced COPD and 2) measuring outcomes of providing such services.
Design
Single-centre cohort longitudinal observational study.
Setting/Subjects
Patients with advanced COPD and their caregivers were followed in their homes for 6 months.
Measurements
Health-related quality of life (HRQoL), caregiver burden, symptom severity, patient/caregiver satisfaction, utilization of acute care services, end-of-life (EOL) outcomes.
Results
30 patients and 18 caregivers were enrolled over 33 months. 25 patients (83%) and 14 caregivers (77%) reached our study endpoint. 13 patients (52%) and 5 caregivers (36%) completed outcome measurements at baseline and endpoint. HRQoL, caregiver burden and symptom severity did not change. Palliative care services were welcomed and valued, yet, despite a stated preference to die at home, 16 patients who died within 18 months of study enrollment died in hospital.
Conclusions
Providing home-based palliative care services for patients with advanced COPD is feasible but completing repeated questionnaires is impractical. Despite significant palliative supports, managing terminal symptoms exceeded caregivers' capacity to cope and forced hospital admission. Insights into systemic barriers and limitations of current palliative care service models can provide opportunities for local program innovation aimed at improving care for advanced COPD.
doi:10.1089/jpm.2012.0285
PMCID: PMC3546432  PMID: 23317322
9.  The net effect: spanning diseases, crossing borders—highlights from the fourth triennial APCA conference and annual HPCA conference for palliative care 
ecancermedicalscience  2013;7:371.
The African Palliative Care Association (APCA) jointly hosted its triennial palliative care conference for Africa with the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of South Africa (HPCA) on 17–20 September 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. At the heart of the conference stood a common commitment to see patient care improved across the continent. The theme for the conference, ‘The Net Effect: Spanning Diseases, Crossing Borders’, reflected this joint vision and the drive to remember the ‘net effect’ of our work in palliative care—that is, the ultimate impact of the care that we provide for our patients and their families across the disease and age spectrum and across the borders of African countries. The conference, held in Johannesburg, brought together 471 delegates from 34 countries. The key themes and messages from the conference are encapsulated in ten ‘C’s of commitment to political will and support at the highest levels of governance; engaging national, regional, and international bodies; collaboration; diversity; palliative care for children; planning for human resources and capacity building; palliative care integration at all levels; developing an evidence base for palliative care in Africa; using new technologies; and improved quality of care. Participants found the conference to be a forum that challenged their understanding of the topics presented, as well as enlightening in terms of applying best practice in their own context. Delegates found a renewed commitment and passion for palliative care and related health interventions for children and adults with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses within the region. This conference highlighted many of the developments in palliative care in the region and served as a unique opportunity to bring people together and serve as a lynchpin for palliative care provision and development in Africa. The delegates were united in the fact that together we can ‘span diseases,’ ‘cross borders,’ and realise the ‘African Dream’ for palliative care.
doi:10.3332/ecancer.2013.371
PMCID: PMC3816847  PMID: 24222787
palliative care; Africa; policy; integration; consensus development; research
10.  PalliPA: How can general practices support caregivers of patients at their end of life in a home-care setting? A study protocol 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:233.
Background
The care of patients with a life-threatening, progressive and far advanced illness in a home-care setting requires appropriate individual care and requires the active support of family caregivers. General practice teams are usually the primary care givers and first contact and are best placed to offer support to family caregivers and to recognise and respond to the burden of care giving on family members. The aim of this project is to develop a best practice model for engaging with and supporting family caregivers.
Findings
The project is framed as an exploratory trial for a subsequent implementation study, covering phases 0, I and II of the MRC (Medical Research Council) framework for development, design and evaluation of complex interventions. The project is a multi-method procedure and has two phases. In the first phase, which has already been completed, we used a reflective practice procedure where general practice teams were asked about how they currently deal with family caregivers. In the second phase, a participatory action research approach aims to improve identification and response to when support is necessary for family caregivers. Ten participating general practice teams each enrol 40 eligible patients and their family caregiver, to identify structures and tools feasible for use in their practice. Standardised self-reported questionnaires (Burden Scale for Family Caregivers and Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 15 Palliative) are being applied at study inclusion (prior to or during the implementation period) and after 6 and 12 months to explore implementation effects. Qualitative assessment of general practice teams’ experiences will be triangulated with the quantitative evaluation of the implementation.
Discussion
This two-step approach, which is appropriate to primary palliative care in the German health care context, will enable general practice teams to develop feasible, acceptable and successful strategies for the implementation of best practice to successfully support family caregivers of patients at the end of life.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-233
PMCID: PMC3403887  PMID: 22583663
End-of-life care; Family caregivers; General practice; Participatory action research
11.  Palliative care on Manitoulin Island. Views of family caregivers in remote communities. 
Canadian Family Physician  2000;46:1301-1307.
OBJECTIVE: To describe family caregivers' experiences with palliative care services in rural communities. DESIGN: Qualitative study. SETTING: Manitoulin Island, Ont. PARTICIPANTS: Thirteen family caregivers of 12 deceased patients who had received palliative care services. METHOD: Twenty-five family caregivers were recruited by mail and local newspaper. Eight were excluded because they lived off the Island or were too recently bereaved; one declined an interview; and three were excluded by researchers. Initial contact was by telephone; those retained (13 people) were interviewed at home. Interviews were conducted by the same researcher using a semistructured interview guide. All interviews were audiotaped and transcribed, and content was analyzed. MAIN FINDINGS: Three interwoven themes were identified: access to services, quality of services, and support and caring. Hospital and community-based services were accessed with ease at the local level; difficulties were noted when accessing services in tertiary care centres. Participants were generally grateful for and pleased with services received. Two areas of concern raised by participants were communication and pain and symptom control. Participants suggested to the Ministry of Health ways to improve rural palliative care services. More public funding for in-home palliative care services was identified as a priority. CONCLUSION: Participants thought good services and supportive care at the local level made up for difficulties in accessing and using palliative services in tertiary care centres. Community spirit and culture were seen as making situations more bearable.
PMCID: PMC2144945  PMID: 10907569
12.  Perspectives on care and communication involving incurably ill Turkish and Moroccan patients, relatives and professionals: a systematic literature review 
BMC Palliative Care  2012;11:17.
Background
Our aim was to obtain a clearer picture of the relevant care experiences and care perceptions of incurably ill Turkish and Moroccan patients, their relatives and professional care providers, as well as of communication and decision-making patterns at the end of life. The ultimate objective is to improve palliative care for Turkish and Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands, by taking account of socio-cultural factors in the guidelines for palliative care.
Methods
A systematic literature review was undertaken. The data sources were seventeen national and international literature databases, four Dutch journals dedicated to palliative care and 37 websites of relevant national and international organizations. All the references found were checked to see whether they met the structured inclusion criteria. Inclusion was limited to publications dealing with primary empirical research on the relationship between socio-cultural factors and the health or care situation of Turkish or Moroccan patients with an oncological or incurable disease. The selection was made by first reading the titles and abstracts and subsequently the full texts. The process of deciding which studies to include was carried out by two reviewers independently. A generic appraisal instrument was applied to assess the methodological quality.
Results
Fifty-seven studies were found that reported findings for the countries of origin (mainly Turkey) and the immigrant host countries (mainly the Netherlands). The central themes were experiences and perceptions of family care, professional care, end-of-life care and communication. Family care is considered a duty, even when such care becomes a severe burden for the main female family caregiver in particular. Professional hospital care is preferred by many of the patients and relatives because they are looking for a cure and security. End-of-life care is strongly influenced by the continuing hope for recovery. Relatives are often quite influential in end-of-life decisions, such as the decision to withdraw or withhold treatments. The diagnosis, prognosis and end-of-life decisions are seldom discussed with the patient, and communication about pain and mental problems is often limited. Language barriers and the dominance of the family may exacerbate communication problems.
Conclusions
This review confirms the view that family members of patients with a Turkish or Moroccan background have a central role in care, communication and decision making at the end of life. This, in combination with their continuing hope for the patient’s recovery may inhibit open communication between patients, relatives and professionals as partners in palliative care. This implies that organizations and professionals involved in palliative care should take patients’ socio-cultural characteristics into account and incorporate cultural sensitivity into care standards and care practices.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-11-17
PMCID: PMC3517329  PMID: 22985103
Palliative care; Communication; Immigrants; Ethnic minorities
13.  The PAMINO-project: evaluating a primary care-based educational program to improve the quality of life of palliative patients 
Background
The care of palliative patients challenges the health care system in both quantity and quality. Especially the role of primary care givers needs to be strengthened to provide them with the knowledge and the confidence of applying an appropriate end-of-life care to palliative patients. To improve health care services for palliative patients in primary care, interested physicians in and around Heidelberg, Germany, are enabled to participate in the community-based program 'Palliative Medical Initiative North Baden (PAMINO)' to improve their knowledge in dealing with palliative patients. The impact of this program on patients' health and quality of life remains to be evaluated.
Methods/Design
The evaluation of PAMINO is a non-randomized, controlled study. Out of the group of primary care physicians who took part in the PAMINO program, a sample of 45 physicians and their palliative patients will be compared to a sample of palliative patients of 45 physicians who did not take part in the program. Every four weeks for 6 months or until death, patients, physicians, and the patients' family caregivers in both groups answer questions to therapy strategies, quality of life (QLQ-C15-PAL, POS), pain (VAS), and burden for family caregivers (BSFC). The inclusion of physicians and patients in the study starts in March 2007.
Discussion
Although participating physicians value the increase in knowledge they receive from PAMINO, the effects on patients remain unclear. If the evaluation reveals a clear benefit for patients' quality of life, a larger-scale implementation of the program is considered.
Trial registration: The study was registered at ‘current controlled trials (CCT)’, registration number: ISRCTN78021852.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-6-5
PMCID: PMC1892546  PMID: 17535418
14.  The Diverse Landscape of Palliative Care Clinics 
Journal of Palliative Medicine  2013;16(6):661-668.
Abstract
Background
Many health care organizations are interested in instituting a palliative care clinic. However, there are insufficient published data regarding existing practices to inform the development of new programs.
Objective
Our objective was to obtain in-depth information about palliative care clinics.
Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 20 outpatient palliative care practices in diverse care settings. The survey included both closed- and open-ended questions regarding practice size, utilization of services, staffing, referrals, services offered, funding, impetus for starting, and challenges.
Results
Twenty of 21 (95%) practices responded. Practices self-identified as: hospital-based (n=7), within an oncology division/cancer center (n=5), part of an integrated health system (n=6), and hospice-based (n=2). The majority of referred patients had a cancer diagnosis. Additional common diagnoses included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, neurologic disorders, and congestive heart failure. All practices ranked “pain management” and “determining goals of care” as the most common reasons for referrals. Twelve practices staffed fewer than 5 half-days of clinic per week, with 7 operating only one half-day per week. Practices were staffed by a mixture of physicians, advanced practice nurses or nurse practitioners, nurses, or social workers. Eighteen practices expected their practice to grow within the next year. Eleven practices noted a staffing shortage and 8 had a wait time of a week or more for a new patient appointment. Only 12 practices provide 24/7 coverage. Billing and institutional support were the most common funding sources. Most practices described starting because inpatient palliative providers perceived poor quality outpatient care in the outpatient setting. The most common challenges included: funding for staffing (11) and being overwhelmed with referrals (8).
Conclusions
Once established, outpatient palliative care practices anticipate rapid growth. In this context, outpatient practices must plan for increased staffing and develop a sustainable financial model.
doi:10.1089/jpm.2012.0469
PMCID: PMC3668622  PMID: 23662953
15.  Current Status of Palliative Care, Education, and Research 
Palliative and end-of-life care is changing in the United States. This dynamic field is improving the care for patients with serious and life-threatening cancer through creation of national guidelines for quality care, multidisciplinary educational offerings, research endeavors, and resources made available to clinicians. Barriers to implementing quality palliative care across cancer populations include a rapidly expanding population of older adults who will need cancer care and a decrease in the workforce available to give care. Ways to integrate current palliative care knowledge into care of patients include multidisciplinary national education and research endeavors, and clinician resources. Acceptance of palliative care as a recognized medical specialty provides a valuable resource for improvement of care. While the evidence base for palliative care is only beginning, national research support has assisted in providing support to build the knowledge foundation for appropriate palliative care. Opportunities are available for clinicians to understand and apply appropriate palliative and end-of-life care to patients with serious and life-threatening cancers.
doi:10.3322/caac.20032
PMCID: PMC2929964  PMID: 19729681
Palliative Care; Advanced Cancer; Palliative Education; Hospice
16.  Giving Voice to Patients' and Family Caregivers' Needs in Chronic Heart Failure: Implications for Palliative Care Programs 
Journal of Palliative Medicine  2011;14(12):1317-1324.
Abstract
Background
The American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) Guidelines for the Management of Heart Failure recommend palliative care in the context of Stage D HF or at the end of life. Previous studies related to heart failure (HF) palliative care provide useful information about patients' experiences, but they do not provide concrete guidance for what palliative care needs are most important and how a palliative care program should be structured.
Objectives
Describe HF patients' and their family caregivers' major concerns and needs. Explore whether, how, and when palliative care would be useful to them.
Design and participants
Qualitative study using in-depth interviews of 33 adult outpatients with symptomatic HF identified using purposive sampling and 20 of their family caregivers.
Approach
Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using the constant comparative method.
Key results
Overall, patients and caregivers desired early support adjusting to the limitations and future course of illness, relief of a number of diverse symptoms, and the involvement of family caregivers using a team approach. A diverse group of participants desired these elements of palliative care early in illness, concurrent with their disease-specific care, coordinated by a provider who understood their heart condition and knew them well. Some diverging needs and preferences were found based on health status and age.
Conclusions
HF patients and their family caregivers supported early integration of palliative care services, particularly psychosocial support and symptom control, using a collaborative team approach. Future research should test the feasibility and effectiveness of integrating such a program into routine HF care.
doi:10.1089/jpm.2011.0179
PMCID: PMC3532000  PMID: 22107107
17.  Patient Perspectives on Participation in the ENABLE II Randomized Controlled Trial of a Concurrent Oncology Palliative Care Intervention: Benefits and Burdens 
Palliative medicine  2012;27(4):375-383.
Background
ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise Before Life Ends) II was one of the first randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examining the effects of a concurrent oncology palliative care intervention on quality of life, mood, and symptom control for advanced cancer patients and their caregivers. However, little is known about how participants experience early palliative care and the benefits and burdens of participating in a palliative care clinical trial.
Aim
To gain a deeper understanding of participants’ perspectives about the intervention and palliative care trial participation.
Design
A qualitative descriptive study using thematic analysis to determine benefits and burdens of a new palliative care intervention and trial participation.
Setting/Participants
Of the 72 participants who were alive when the study commenced, 53 agreed to complete an in-depth, semi-structured interview regarding the ENABLE II intervention and clinical trial participation.
Results
Participants’ perceptions of intervention benefits were represented by four themes: enhanced problem-solving skills, better coping, feeling empowered, and feeling supported or reassured. Three themes related to trial participation: helping future patients and contributing to science, gaining insight through completion of questionnaires, and trial/intervention aspects to improve.
Conclusions
The benefits of the intervention and the positive aspects of trial participation outweighed trial “burdens”. This study raises additional important questions relevant to future trial design and intervention development: when should a palliative care intervention be initiated and what aspects of self-care and healthy living should be offered in addition to palliative content for advanced cancer patients when they are feeling well?
doi:10.1177/0269216312445188
PMCID: PMC3657725  PMID: 22573470
Qualitative Study; Randomized Controlled Trial; Palliative Care; Intervention study
18.  Palliative care provision for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of disability, morbidity and mortality in old age. Patients with advanced stage COPD are most likely to be admitted three to four times per year with acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD) which are costly to manage. The adverse events of AECOPD are associated with poor quality of life, severe physical disability, loneliness, and depression and anxiety symptoms. Currently there is a lack of palliative care provision for patients with advanced stage COPD compared with cancer patients despite having poor prognosis, intolerable dyspnoea, lower levels of self efficacy, greater disability, poor quality of life and higher levels of anxiety and depression. These symptoms affect patients' quality of life and can be a source of concern for family and carers as most patients are likely to be housebound and may be in need of continuous support and care. Evidence of palliative care provision for cancer patients indicate that it improves quality of life and reduces health care costs. The reasons why COPD patients do not receive palliative care are complex. This partly may relate to prognostic accuracy of patients' survival which poses a challenge for healthcare professionals, including general practitioners for patients with advanced stage COPD, as they are less likely to engage in end-of-life care planning in contrast with terminal disease like cancer. Furthermore there is a lack of resources which constraints for the wider availability of the palliative care programmes in the health care system. Potential barriers may include unwillingness of patients to discuss advance care planning and end-of-life care with their general practitioners, lack of time, increased workload, and fear of uncertainty of the information to provide about the prognosis of the disease and also lack of appropriate tools to guide general practitioners when to refer patients for palliative care. COPD is a chronic incurable disease; those in an advanced stage of the disease pursuing intensive medical treatment may also benefit from the simultaneous holistic care approach of palliative care services, medical services and social services to improve quality of end of life care.
doi:10.1186/1477-7525-5-17
PMCID: PMC1852092  PMID: 17407591
19.  Oncologists’ Perspectives on Concurrent Palliative Care in an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center 
Palliative & supportive care  2012;11(5):415-423.
Purpose
To understand oncology clinicians’ perspectives about the care of advanced cancer patients following the completion of the ENABLE II (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends) randomized clinical trial (RCT) of a concurrent oncology palliative care model.
Methods
Qualitative interview study of 35 oncology clinicians about their approach to patients with advanced cancer and the effect of the ENABLE II RCT.
Results
Oncologists believed that integrating palliative care at the time of an advanced cancer diagnosis enhanced patient care and complemented their practice. Self-assessment of their practice with advanced cancer patients comprised four themes: 1) treating the whole patient, 2) focusing on quality versus quantity of life, 3) “some patients just want to fight”, and 4) helping with transitions; timing is everything. Five themes comprised oncologists’ views on the complementary role of palliative care: 1) “refer early and often”, 2) referral challenges: “Palliative” equals hospice; “Heme patients are different”, 3) palliative care as consultants or co-managers, 4) palliative care “shares the load”, and 5) ENABLE II facilitated palliative care integration.
Conclusions
Oncologists described the RCT as holistic and complementary, and as a significant factor in adopting concurrent care as a standard of care.
doi:10.1017/S1478951512000673
PMCID: PMC3797174  PMID: 23040412
oncologist; oncology nurse practitioner; concurrent oncology palliative care; qualitative research; health care delivery
20.  Cancer Carepartners: Improving patients' symptom management by engaging informal caregivers 
BMC Palliative Care  2011;10:21.
Background
Previous studies have found that cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy can effectively manage their own symptoms when given tailored advice. This approach, however, may challenge patients with poor performance status and/or emotional distress. Our goal is to test an automated intervention that engages a friend or family member to support a patient through chemotherapy.
Methods/Design
We describe the design and rationale of a randomized, controlled trial to assess the efficacy of 10 weeks of web-based caregiver alerts and tailored advice for helping a patient manage symptoms related to chemotherapy. The study aims to test the primary hypothesis that patients whose caregivers receive alerts and tailored advice will report less frequent and less severe symptoms at 10 and 14 weeks when compared to patients in the control arm; similarly, they will report better physical function, fewer outpatient visits and hospitalizations related to symptoms, and greater adherence to chemotherapy. 300 patients with solid tumors undergoing chemotherapy at two Veteran Administration oncology clinics reporting any symptom at a severity of ≥4 and a willing informal caregiver will be assigned to either 10 weeks of automated telephonic symptom assessment (ATSA) alone, or 10 weeks of ATSA plus web-based notification of symptom severity and problem solving advice to their chosen caregiver. Patients and caregivers will be surveyed at intake, 10 weeks and 14 weeks. Both groups will receive standard oncology, hospice, and palliative care.
Discussion
Patients undergoing chemotherapy experience many symptoms that they may be able to manage with the support of an activated caregiver. This intervention uses readily available technology to improve patient caregiver communication about symptoms and caregiver knowledge of symptom management. If successful, it could substantially improve the quality of life of veterans and their families during the stresses of chemotherapy without substantially increasing the cost of care.
Trial Registration
NCT00983892
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-10-21
PMCID: PMC3295676  PMID: 22117890
21.  e-Health, m-Health and healthier social media reform: the big scale view 
Introduction
In the upcoming decade, digital platforms will be the backbone of a strategic revolution in the way medical services are provided, affecting both healthcare providers and patients. Digital-based patient-centered healthcare services allow patients to actively participate in managing their own care, in times of health as well as illness, using personally tailored interactive tools. Such empowerment is expected to increase patients’ willingness to adopt actions and lifestyles that promote health as well as improve follow-up and compliance with treatment in cases of chronic illness. Clalit Health Services (CHS) is the largest HMO in Israel and second largest world-wide. Through its 14 hospitals, 1300 primary and specialized clinics, and 650 pharmacies, CHS provides comprehensive medical care to the majority of Israel’s population (above 4 million members). CHS e-Health wing focuses on deepening patient involvement in managing health, through personalized digital interactive tools. Currently, CHS e-Health wing provides e-health services for 1.56 million unique patients monthly with 2.4 million interactions every month (August 2011). Successful implementation of e-Health solutions is not a sum of technology, innovation and health; rather it’s the expertise of tailoring knowledge and leadership capabilities in multidisciplinary areas: clinical, ethical, psychological, legal, comprehension of patient and medical team engagement etc. The Google Health case excellently demonstrates this point. On the other hand, our success with CHS is a demonstration that e-Health can be enrolled effectively and fast with huge benefits for both patients and medical teams, and with a robust business model.
CHS e-Health core components
They include:
1. The personal health record layer (what the patient can see) presents patients with their own medical history as well as the medical history of their preadult children, including diagnoses, allergies, vaccinations, laboratory results with interpretations in layman’s terms, medications with clear, straightforward explanations regarding dosing instructions, important side effects, contraindications, such as lactation etc., and other important medical information. All personal e-Health services require identification and authorization.
2. The personal knowledge layer (what the patient should know) presents patients with personally tailored recommendations for preventative medicine and health promotion. For example, diabetic patients are push notified regarding their yearly eye exam. The various health recommendations include: occult blood testing, mammography, lipid profile etc. Each recommendation contains textual, visual and interactive content components in order to promote engagement and motivate the patient to actually change his health behaviour.
3. The personal health services layer (what the patient can do) enables patients to schedule clinic visits, order chronic prescriptions, e-consult their physician via secured e-mail, set SMS medication reminders, e-consult a pharmacist regarding personal medications. Consultants’ answers are sent securely to the patients’ personal mobile device.
On December 2009 CHS launched secured, web based, synchronous medical consultation via video conference. Currently 11,780 e-visits are performed monthly (May 2011). The medical encounter includes e-prescription and referral capabilities which are biometrically signed by the physician. On December 2010 CHS launched a unique mobile health platform, which is one of the most comprehensive personal m-Health applications world-wide. An essential advantage of mobile devices is their potential to bridge the digital divide. Currently, CHS m-Health platform is used by more than 45,000 unique users, with 75,000 laboratory results views/month, 1100 m-consultations/month and 9000 physician visit scheduling/month.
4. The Bio-Sensing layer (what physiological data the patient can populate) includes diagnostic means that allow remote physical examination, bio-sensors that broadcast various physiological measurements, and smart homecare devices, such as e-Pill boxes that gives seniors, patients and their caregivers the ability to stay at home and live life to its fullest. Monitored data is automatically transmitted to the patient’s Personal Health Record and to relevant medical personnel.
The monitoring layer is embedded in the chronic disease management platform, and in the interactive health promotion and wellness platform. It includes tailoring of consumer-oriented medical devices and service provided by various professional personnel—physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians and more.
5. The Social layer (what the patient can share). Social media networks triggered an essential change at the humanity ‘genome’ level, yet to be further defined in the upcoming years. Social media has huge potential in promoting health as it combines fun, simple yet extraordinary user experience, and bio-social-feedback. There are two major challenges in leveraging health care through social networks:
a. Our personal health information is the cornerstone for personalizing healthier lifestyle, disease management and preventative medicine. We naturally see our personal health data as a super-private territory. So, how do we bring the power of our private health information, currently locked within our Personal Health Record, into social media networks without offending basic privacy issues?
b. Disease management and preventive medicine are currently neither considered ‘cool’ nor ‘fun’ or ‘potentially highly viral’ activities; yet, health is a major issue of everybody’s life. It seems like we are missing a crucial element with a huge potential in health behavioural change—the Fun Theory. Social media platforms comprehends user experience tools that potentially could break current misconception, and engage people in the daily task of taking better care of themselves.
CHS e-Health innovation team characterized several break-through applications in this unexplored territory within social media networks, fusing personal health and social media platforms without offending privacy. One of the most crucial issues regarding adoption of e-health and m-health platforms is change management. Being a ‘hot’ innovative ‘gadget’ is far from sufficient for changing health behaviours at the individual and population levels.
CHS health behaviour change management methodology includes 4 core elements:
1. Engaging two completely different populations: patients, and medical teams. e-Health applications must present true added value for both medical teams and patients, engaging them through understanding and assimilating “what’s really in it for me”. Medical teams are further subdivided into physicians, nurses, pharmacists and administrative personnel—each with their own driving incentive. Resistance to change is an obstacle in many fields but it is particularly true in the conservative health industry. To successfully manage a large scale persuasive process, we treat intra-organizational human resources as “Change Agents”. Harnessing the persuasive power of ~40,000 employees requires engaging them as the primary target group. Successful recruitment has the potential of converting each patient-medical team interaction into an exposure opportunity to the new era of participatory medicine via e-health and m-health channels.
2. Implementation waves: every group of digital health products that are released at the same time are seen as one project. Each implementation wave leverages the focus of the organization and target populations to a defined time span. There are three major and three minor implementation waves a year.
3. Change-Support Arrow: a structured infrastructure for every implementation wave. The sub-stages in this strategy include:
Cross organizational mapping and identification of early adopters and stakeholders relevant to the implementation wave
Mapping positive or negative perceptions and designing specific marketing approaches for the distinct target groups
Intra and extra organizational marketing
Conducting intensive training and presentation sessions for groups of implementers
Running conflict-prevention activities, such as advanced tackling of potential union resistance
Training change-agents with resistance-management behavioural techniques, focused intervention for specific incidents and for key opinion leaders
Extensive presence in the clinics during the launch period, etc.
The entire process is monitored and managed continuously by a review team.
4. Closing Phase: each wave is analyzed and a “lessons-learned” session concludes the changes required in the modus operandi of the e-health project team.
PMCID: PMC3571141
e-Health; mobile health; personal health record; online visit; patient empowerment; knowledge prescription
22.  Integrating palliative care in the surgical and trauma intensive care unit: A report from the Improving Palliative Care in the Intensive Care Unit (IPAL-ICU) Project Advisory Board and the Center to Advance Palliative Care 
Critical Care Medicine  2012;40(4):1199-1206.
Objective
Although successful models for palliative care delivery and quality improvement in the intensive care unit have been described, their applicability in surgical intensive care unit settings has not been fully addressed. We undertook to define specific challenges, strategies, and solutions for integration of palliative care in the surgical intensive care unit.
Data Sources
We searched the MEDLINE database from inception to May 2011 for all English language articles using the term “surgical palliative care” or the terms “surgical critical care,” “surgical ICU,” “surgeon,” “trauma” or “transplant,” and “palliative care” or “end-of- life care” and hand-searched our personal files for additional articles. Based on review of these articles and the experiences of our interdisciplinary expert Advisory Board, we prepared this report.
Data Extraction and Synthesis
We critically reviewed the existing literature on delivery of palliative care in the surgical intensive care unit setting focusing on challenges, strategies, models, and interventions to promote effective integration of palliative care for patients receiving surgical critical care and their families.
Conclusions
Characteristics of patients with surgical disease and practices, attitudes, and interactions of different disciplines on the surgical critical care team present distinctive issues for intensive care unit palliative care integration and improvement. Physicians, nurses, and other team members in surgery, critical care and palliative care (if available) should be engaged collaboratively to identify challenges and develop strategies. “Consultative,” “integrative,” and combined models can be used to improve intensive care unit palliative care, although optimal use of trigger criteria for palliative care consultation has not yet been demonstrated. Important components of an improvement effort include attention to efficient work systems and practical tools and to attitudinal factors and “culture” in the unit and institution. Approaches that emphasize delivery of palliative care together with surgical critical care hold promise to better integrate palliative care into the surgical intensive care unit.
doi:10.1097/CCM.0b013e31823bc8e7
PMCID: PMC3307874  PMID: 22080644
end-of-life care; ICU palliative care; surgeon attitude; surgical intensive care; surgical outcome; surgical palliative care
23.  Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
This report features the evidence-based analysis on caregiver- and patient-directed interventions for dementia and is broken down into 4 sections:
Introduction
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Economic Analysis of Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Objective
To identify interventions that may be effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia living in the community.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Dementia is a progressive and largely irreversible syndrome that is characterized by a loss of cognitive function severe enough to impact social or occupational functioning. The components of cognitive function affected include memory and learning, attention, concentration and orientation, problem-solving, calculation, language, and geographic orientation. Dementia was identified as one of the key predictors in a senior’s transition from independent community living to admission to a long-term care (LTC) home, in that approximately 90% of individuals diagnosed with dementia will be institutionalized before death. In addition, cognitive decline linked to dementia is one of the most commonly cited reasons for institutionalization.
Prevalence estimates of dementia in the Ontario population have largely been extrapolated from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging conducted in 1991. Based on these estimates, it is projected that there will be approximately 165,000 dementia cases in Ontario in the year 2008, and by 2010 the number of cases will increase by nearly 17% over 2005 levels. By 2020 the number of cases is expected to increase by nearly 55%, due to a rise in the number of people in the age categories with the highest prevalence (85+). With the increase in the aging population, dementia will continue to have a significant economic impact on the Canadian health care system. In 1991, the total costs associated with dementia in Canada were $3.9 billion (Cdn) with $2.18 billion coming from LTC.
Caregivers play a crucial role in the management of individuals with dementia because of the high level of dependency and morbidity associated with the condition. It has been documented that a greater demand is faced by dementia caregivers compared with caregivers of persons with other chronic diseases. The increased burden of caregiving contributes to a host of chronic health problems seen among many informal caregivers of persons with dementia. Much of this burden results from managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), which have been established as a predictor of institutionalization for elderly patients with dementia.
It is recognized that for some patients with dementia, an LTC facility can provide the most appropriate care; however, many patients move into LTC unnecessarily. For individuals with dementia to remain in the community longer, caregivers require many types of formal and informal support services to alleviate the stress of caregiving. These include both respite care and psychosocial interventions. Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions such as psychoeducational interventions, counseling, supportive therapy, and behavioural interventions.
Assuming that 50% of persons with dementia live in the community, a conservative estimate of the number of informal caregivers in Ontario is 82,500. Accounting for the fact that 29% of people with dementia live alone, this leaves a remaining estimate of 58,575 Ontarians providing care for a person with dementia with whom they reside.
Description of Interventions
The 2 main categories of caregiver-directed interventions examined in this review are respite care and psychosocial interventions. Respite care is defined as a break or relief for the caregiver. In most cases, respite is provided in the home, through day programs, or at institutions (usually 30 days or less). Depending on a caregiver’s needs, respite services will vary in delivery and duration. Respite care is carried out by a variety of individuals, including paid staff, volunteers, family, or friends.
Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions and have been classified in various ways in the literature. This review will examine educational, behavioural, dementia-specific, supportive, and coping interventions. The analysis focuses on behavioural interventions, that is, those designed to help the caregiver manage BPSD. As described earlier, BPSD are one of the most challenging aspects of caring for a senior with dementia, causing an increase in caregiver burden. The analysis also examines multicomponent interventions, which include at least 2 of the above-mentioned interventions.
Methods of Evidence-Based Analysis
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effectiveness of interventions for caregivers of dementia patients.
Questions
Section 2.1
Are respite care services effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Do respite care services impact on rates of institutionalization of these seniors?
Section 2.2
Which psychosocial interventions are effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Which interventions reduce the risk for institutionalization of seniors with dementia?
Outcomes of Interest
any quantitative measure of caregiver psychological health, including caregiver burden, depression, quality of life, well-being, strain, mastery (taking control of one’s situation), reactivity to behaviour problems, etc.;
rate of institutionalization; and
cost-effectiveness.
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology and GRADE Working Group. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Conclusions in Table 1 are drawn from Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of the report.
Summary of Conclusions on Caregiver-Directed Interventions
There is limited evidence from RCTs that respite care is effective in improving outcomes for those caring for seniors with dementia.
There is considerable qualitative evidence of the perceived benefits of respite care.
Respite care is known as one of the key formal support services for alleviating caregiver burden in those caring for dementia patients.
Respite care services need to be tailored to individual caregiver needs as there are vast differences among caregivers and patients with dementia (severity, type of dementia, amount of informal/formal support available, housing situation, etc.)
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that individual behavioural interventions (≥ 6 sessions), directed towards the caregiver (or combined with the patient) are effective in improving psychological health in dementia caregivers.
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that multicomponent interventions improve caregiver psychosocial health and may affect rates of institutionalization of dementia patients.
RCT indicates randomized controlled trial.
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Objective
The section on patient-directed interventions for dementia is broken down into 4 subsections with the following questions:
3.1 Physical Exercise for Seniors with Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of basic activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability, in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.2 Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions to Improve Cognitive Functioning in Seniors With Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.3 Physical Exercise for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
3.4 Cognitive Interventions for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, deterioration in the performance of basic ADLs or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs),1 or incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Secondary Prevention2
Exercise
Physical deterioration is linked to dementia. This is thought to be due to reduced muscle mass leading to decreased activity levels and muscle atrophy, increasing the potential for unsafe mobility while performing basic ADLs such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability.
Improved physical conditioning for seniors with dementia may extend their independent mobility and maintain performance of ADL.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Cognitive impairments, including memory problems, are a defining feature of dementia. These impairments can lead to anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from activities. The impact of these cognitive problems on daily activities increases pressure on caregivers.
Cognitive interventions aim to improve these impairments in people with mild to moderate dementia.
Primary Prevention3
Exercise
Various vascular risk factors have been found to contribute to the development of dementia (e.g., hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, overweight).
Physical exercise is important in promoting overall and vascular health. However, it is unclear whether physical exercise can decrease the risk of cognitive decline/dementia.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Having more years of education (i.e., a higher cognitive reserve) is associated with a lower prevalence of dementia in crossectional population-based studies and a lower incidence of dementia in cohorts followed longitudinally. However, it is unclear whether cognitive training can increase cognitive reserve or decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs or reduce the incidence of dementia.
Description of Interventions
Physical exercise and nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions (e.g., cognitive training) for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia are assessed in this review.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and RCTs that examined the effectiveness, safety and cost effectiveness of exercise and cognitive interventions for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia.
Questions
Section 3.1: What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of ADLs in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.2: What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.3: Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
Section 3.4: Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs, or reduce the incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Table 2 summarizes the conclusions from Sections 3.1 through 3.4.
Summary of Conclusions on Patient-Directed Interventions*
Previous systematic review indicated that “cognitive training” is not effective in patients with dementia.
A recent RCT suggests that CST (up to 7 weeks) is effective for improving cognitive function and quality of life in patients with dementia.
Regular leisure time physical activity in midlife is associated with a reduced risk of dementia in later life (mean follow-up 21 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline (mean follow-up 2 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of dementia (mean follow-up 6–7 years).
Evidence that cognitive training for specific functions (memory, reasoning, and speed of processing) produces improvements in these specific domains.
Limited inconclusive evidence that cognitive training can offset deterioration in the performance of self-reported IADL scores and performance assessments.
1° indicates primary; 2°, secondary; CST, cognitive stimulation therapy; IADL, instrumental activities of daily living; RCT, randomized controlled trial.
Benefit/Risk Analysis
As per the GRADE Working Group, the overall recommendations consider 4 main factors:
the trade-offs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates, and the relative value placed on the outcome;
the quality of the evidence;
translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise; and
uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of health care alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 reflects the overall trade-off between benefits and harms (adverse events) and incorporates any risk/uncertainty (cost-effectiveness).
Overall Summary Statement of the Benefit and Risk for Patient-Directed Interventions*
Economic Analysis
Budget Impact Analysis of Effective Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-directed behavioural techniques and patient-directed exercise programs were found to be effective when assessing mild to moderate dementia outcomes in seniors living in the community. Therefore, an annual budget impact was calculated based on eligible seniors in the community with mild and moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who were willing to participate in interventional home sessions. Table 4 describes the annual budget impact for these interventions.
Annual Budget Impact (2008 Canadian Dollars)
Assumed 7% prevalence of dementia aged 65+ in Ontario.
Assumed 8 weekly sessions plus 4 monthly phone calls.
Assumed 12 weekly sessions plus biweekly sessions thereafter (total of 20).
Assumed 2 sessions per week for first 5 weeks. Assumed 90% of seniors in the community with dementia have mild to moderate disease. Assumed 4.5% of seniors 65+ are in long-term care, and the remainder are in the community. Assumed a rate of participation of 60% for both patients and caregivers and of 41% for patient-directed exercise. Assumed 100% compliance since intervention administered at the home. Cost for trained staff from Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care data source. Assumed cost of personal support worker to be equivalent to in-home support. Cost for recreation therapist from Alberta government Website.
Note: This budget impact analysis was calculated for the first year after introducing the interventions from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care perspective using prevalence data only. Prevalence estimates are for seniors in the community with mild to moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who are willing to participate in an interventional session administered at the home setting. Incidence and mortality rates were not factored in. Current expenditures in the province are unknown and therefore were not included in the analysis. Numbers may change based on population trends, rate of intervention uptake, trends in current programs in place in the province, and assumptions on costs. The number of patients was based on patients likely to access these interventions in Ontario based on assumptions stated below from the literature. An expert panel confirmed resource consumption.
PMCID: PMC3377513  PMID: 23074509
24.  The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Health Care: A Systematic Overview 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(1):e1000387.
Aziz Sheikh and colleagues report the findings of their systematic overview that assessed the impact of eHealth solutions on the quality and safety of health care.
Background
There is considerable international interest in exploiting the potential of digital solutions to enhance the quality and safety of health care. Implementations of transformative eHealth technologies are underway globally, often at very considerable cost. In order to assess the impact of eHealth solutions on the quality and safety of health care, and to inform policy decisions on eHealth deployments, we undertook a systematic review of systematic reviews assessing the effectiveness and consequences of various eHealth technologies on the quality and safety of care.
Methods and Findings
We developed novel search strategies, conceptual maps of health care quality, safety, and eHealth interventions, and then systematically identified, scrutinised, and synthesised the systematic review literature. Major biomedical databases were searched to identify systematic reviews published between 1997 and 2010. Related theoretical, methodological, and technical material was also reviewed. We identified 53 systematic reviews that focused on assessing the impact of eHealth interventions on the quality and/or safety of health care and 55 supplementary systematic reviews providing relevant supportive information. This systematic review literature was found to be generally of substandard quality with regards to methodology, reporting, and utility. We thematically categorised eHealth technologies into three main areas: (1) storing, managing, and transmission of data; (2) clinical decision support; and (3) facilitating care from a distance. We found that despite support from policymakers, there was relatively little empirical evidence to substantiate many of the claims made in relation to these technologies. Whether the success of those relatively few solutions identified to improve quality and safety would continue if these were deployed beyond the contexts in which they were originally developed, has yet to be established. Importantly, best practice guidelines in effective development and deployment strategies are lacking.
Conclusions
There is a large gap between the postulated and empirically demonstrated benefits of eHealth technologies. In addition, there is a lack of robust research on the risks of implementing these technologies and their cost-effectiveness has yet to be demonstrated, despite being frequently promoted by policymakers and “techno-enthusiasts” as if this was a given. In the light of the paucity of evidence in relation to improvements in patient outcomes, as well as the lack of evidence on their cost-effectiveness, it is vital that future eHealth technologies are evaluated against a comprehensive set of measures, ideally throughout all stages of the technology's life cycle. Such evaluation should be characterised by careful attention to socio-technical factors to maximise the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
There is considerable international interest in exploiting the potential of digital health care solutions, often referred to as eHealth—the use of information and communication technologies—to enhance the quality and safety of health care. Often accompanied by large costs, any large-scale expenditure on eHealth—such as electronic health records, picture archiving and communication systems, ePrescribing, associated computerized provider order entry systems, and computerized decision support systems—has tended to be justified on the grounds that these are efficient and cost-effective means for improving health care. In 2005, the World Health Assembly passed an eHealth resolution (WHA 58.28) that acknowledged, “eHealth is the cost-effective and secure use of information and communications technologies in support of health and health-related fields, including health-care services, health surveillance, health literature, and health education, knowledge and research,” and urged member states to develop and implement eHealth technologies. Since then, implementing eHealth technologies has become a main priority for many countries. For example, England has invested at least £12.8 billion in a National Programme for Information Technology for the National Health Service, and the Obama administration in the United States has committed to a US$38 billion eHealth investment in health care.
Why Was This Study Done?
Despite the wide endorsement of and support for eHealth, the scientific basis of its benefits—which are repeatedly made and often uncritically accepted—remains to be firmly established. A robust evidence-based perspective on the advantages on eHealth could help to suggest priority areas that have the greatest potential for benefit to patients and also to inform international eHealth deliberations on costs. Therefore, in order to better inform the international community, the authors systematically reviewed the published systematic review literature on eHealth technologies and evaluated the impact of these technologies on the quality and safety of health care delivery.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers divided eHealth technologies into three main categories: (1) storing, managing, and transmission of data; (2) clinical decision support; and (3) facilitating care from a distance. Then, implementing methods based on those developed by the Cochrane Collaboration and the NHS Service Delivery and Organisation Programme, the researchers used detailed search strategies and maps of health care quality, safety, and eHealth interventions to identify relevant systematic reviews (and related theoretical, methodological, and technical material) published between 1997 and 2010. Using these techniques, the researchers retrieved a total of 46,349 references from which they identified 108 reviews. The 53 reviews that the researchers finally selected (and critically reviewed) provided the main evidence base for assessing the impact of eHealth technologies in the three categories selected.
In their systematic review of systematic reviews, the researchers included electronic health records and picture archiving communications systems in their evaluation of category 1, computerized provider (or physician) order entry and e-prescribing in category 2, and all clinical information systems that, when used in the context of eHealth technologies, integrate clinical and demographic patient information to support clinician decision making in category 3.
The researchers found that many of the clinical claims made about the most commonly used eHealth technologies were not substantiated by empirical evidence. The evidence base in support of eHealth technologies was weak and inconsistent and importantly, there was insubstantial evidence to support the cost-effectiveness of these technologies. For example, the researchers only found limited evidence that some of the many presumed benefits could be realized; importantly, they also found some evidence that introducing these new technologies may on occasions also generate new risks such as prescribers becoming over-reliant on clinical decision support for e-prescribing, or overestimate its functionality, resulting in decreased practitioner performance.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers found that despite the wide support for eHealth technologies and the frequently made claims by policy makers when constructing business cases to raise funds for large-scale eHealth projects, there is as yet relatively little empirical evidence to substantiate many of the claims made about eHealth technologies. In addition, even for the eHealth technology tools that have proven to be successful, there is little evidence to show that such tools would continue to be successful beyond the contexts in which they were originally developed. Therefore, in light of the lack of evidence in relation to improvements in patient outcomes, as well as the lack of evidence on their cost-effectiveness, the authors say that future eHealth technologies should be evaluated against a comprehensive set of measures, ideally throughout all stages of the technology's life cycle, and include socio-technical factors to maximize the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption in a given context. Furthermore, it is equally important that eHealth projects that have already been commissioned are subject to rigorous, multidisciplinary, and independent evaluation.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000387.
The authors' broader study is: Car J, Black A, Anandan C, Cresswell K, Pagliari C, McKinstry B, et al. (2008) The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Healthcare. Available at: http://www.haps.bham.ac.uk/publichealth/cfhep/001.shtml
More information is available on the World Health Assembly eHealth resolution
The World Health Organization provides information at the Global Observatory on eHealth, as well as a global insight into eHealth developments
The European Commission provides Information on eHealth in Europe and some examples of good eHealth practice
More information is provided on NHS Connecting for Health
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000387
PMCID: PMC3022523  PMID: 21267058
25.  Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
Executive Summary
In July 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evidentiary framework, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding treatment strategies for patients with COPD. This project emerged from a request by the Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that MAS provide them with an evidentiary platform on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of COPD interventions.
After an initial review of health technology assessments and systematic reviews of COPD literature, and consultation with experts, MAS identified the following topics for analysis: vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal), smoking cessation, multidisciplinary care, pulmonary rehabilitation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute and chronic respiratory failure, hospital-at-home for acute exacerbations of COPD, and telehealth (including telemonitoring and telephone support). Evidence-based analyses were prepared for each of these topics. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed where appropriate. In addition, a review of the qualitative literature on patient, caregiver, and provider perspectives on living and dying with COPD was conducted, as were reviews of the qualitative literature on each of the technologies included in these analyses.
The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: http://www.hqontario.ca/en/mas/mas_ohtas_mn.html.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Evidentiary Framework
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Long-term Oxygen Therapy for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients With Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telehealth for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using an Ontario Policy Model
Experiences of Living and Dying With COPD: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of the Qualitative Empirical Literature
For more information on the qualitative review, please contact Mita Giacomini at: http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/ceb/faculty member_giacomini.htm.
For more information on the economic analysis, please visit the PATH website: http://www.path-hta.ca/About-Us/Contact-Us.aspx.
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative has produced an associated report on patient preference for mechanical ventilation. For more information, please visit the THETA website: http://theta.utoronto.ca/static/contact.
Objective
The objective of this evidence-based review was to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Technology
Pulmonary rehabilitation refers to a multidisciplinary program of care for patients with chronic respiratory impairment that is individually tailored and designed to optimize physical and social performance and autonomy. Exercise training is the cornerstone of pulmonary rehabilitation programs, though they may also include components such as patient education and psychological support. Pulmonary rehabilitation is recommended as the standard of care in the treatment and rehabilitation of patients with COPD who remain symptomatic despite treatment with bronchodilators.
For the purpose of this review, the Medical Advisory Secretariat focused on pulmonary rehabilitation programs as defined by the Cochrane Collaboration—that is, any inpatient, outpatient, or home-based rehabilitation program lasting at least 4 weeks that includes exercise therapy with or without any form of education and/or psychological support delivered to patients with exercise limitations attributable to COPD.
Research Questions
What is the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation compared with usual care (UC) for patients with stable COPD?
Does early pulmonary rehabilitation (within 1 month of hospital discharge) in patients who had an acute exacerbation of COPD improve outcomes compared with UC (or no rehabilitation)?
Do maintenance or postrehabilitation programs for patients with COPD who have completed a pulmonary rehabilitation program improve outcomes compared with UC?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
For Research Questions 1and 2, a literature search was performed on August 10, 2010 for studies published from January 1, 2004 to July 31, 2010. For Research Question 3, a literature search was performed on February 3, 2011 for studies published from January 1, 2000 to February 3, 2011. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists and health technology assessment websites were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the systematic search.
Inclusion Criteria
Research questions 1 and 2:
published between January 1, 2004 and July 31, 2010
randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses
COPD study population
studies comparing pulmonary rehabilitation with UC (no pulmonary rehabilitation)
duration of pulmonary rehabilitation program ≥ 6 weeks
pulmonary rehabilitation program had to include at minimum exercise training
Research question 3:
published between January 1, 2000 and February 3, 2011
randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses
COPD study population
studies comparing a maintenance or postrehabilitation program with UC (standard follow-up)
duration of pulmonary rehabilitation program ≥ 6 weeks
initial pulmonary rehabilitation program had to include at minimum exercise training
Exclusion Criteria
Research questions 1, 2, and 3:
grey literature
duplicate publications
non-English language publications
study population ≤ 18 years of age
studies conducted in a palliative population
studies that did not report primary outcome of interest
Additional exclusion criteria for research question 3:
studies with ≤ 2 sessions/visits per month
Outcomes of Interest
The primary outcomes of interest for the stable COPD population were exercise capacity and health-related quality of life (HRQOL). For the COPD population following an exacerbation, the primary outcomes of interest were hospital readmissions and HRQOL. The primary outcomes of interest for the COPD population undertaking maintenance programs were functional exercise capacity and HRQOL.
Quality of Evidence
The quality of each included study was assessed taking into consideration allocation concealment, randomization, blinding, power/sample size, withdrawals/dropouts, and intention-to-treat analyses.
The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Findings
Research Question 1: Effect of Pulmonary Rehabilitation on Outcomes in Stable COPD
Seventeen randomized controlled trials met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review.
The following conclusions are based on moderate quality of evidence.
Pulmonary rehabilitation including at least 4 weeks of exercise training leads to clinically and statistically significant improvements in HRQOL in patients with COPD.1
Pulmonary rehabilitation also leads to a clinically and statistically significant improvement in functional exercise capacity2 (weighted mean difference, 54.83 m; 95% confidence interval, 35.63–74.03; P < 0.001).
Research Question 2: Effect of Pulmonary Rehabilitation on Outcomes Following an Acute Exacerbation of COPD
Five randomized controlled trials met the inclusion criteria and are included in this review. The following conclusion is based on moderate quality of evidence.
Pulmonary rehabilitation (within 1 month of hospital discharge) after acute exacerbation significantly reduces hospital readmissions (relative risk, 0.50; 95% confidence interval, 0.33–0.77; P = 0.001) and leads to a statistically and clinically significant improvement in HRQOL.3
Research Question 3: Effect of Pulmonary Rehabilitation Maintenance Programs on COPD Outcomes
Three randomized controlled trials met the inclusion criteria and are included in this review. The conclusions are based on a low quality of evidence and must therefore be considered with caution.
Maintenance programs have a nonsignificant effect on HRQOL and hospitalizations.
Maintenance programs have a statistically but not clinically significant effect on exercise capacity (P = 0.01). When subgrouped by intensity and quality of study, maintenance programs have a statistically and marginally clinically significant effect on exercise capacity.
PMCID: PMC3384375  PMID: 23074434

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