Analyzing Annals: Symptom Trends in the Last Year of Life
Despite end-of-life care receiving increased attention in recent years, it is not known whether dying patients' symptoms have improved. The Annals article, Symptom Trends in the Last Year of Life From 1998 to 2010. A Cohort Study, describes changes in pain intensity and symptom prevalence reported by patients and their proxies during the last year of life. Findings suggest that serious pain and other troubling symptoms remain prevalent among patients near the end-of-life.
Use this paper to consider the following:
- Do you know the difference between palliative care and hospice care? Do you know in whom each should be considered, and when? How is the approach to pain management altered by its underlying cause? Which drugs work best for each cause? How about for nausea? Use the recent In the Clinic: Palliative Care to learn more.
- The authors of this research study did not know the roles played by the proxies in patient care, nor whether the patients who died were enrolled in hospice care or for how long. How do these limitations affect what may be concluded? Does the study show that hospice programs are failing or doing inadequate jobs? What can we conclude? Why do you think it matters? Do you think we do a good job providing care to terminally ill patients?
- Are you comfortable introducing hospice care to a patient? Do you think it hastens death?