Palliative Sedation in Terminal Cancer Patients Admitted to Hospice or Home Care Programs: Does the Setting Matter? Results From a National Multicenter Observational Study

Italian Society of Palliative Care Study Group on Palliative Sedation in Adult Cancer Patients

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

CONTEXT: Few studies regarding palliative sedation (PS) have been carried out in home care (HC) setting. A comparison of PS rate and practices between hospice (HS) and HC is also lacking.

OBJECTIVES: Comparing HC and HS settings for PS rate, patient clinical characteristics before and during PS, decision-making process, and clinical aspects of PS.

METHODS: About 38 HC/HS services in Italy participated in a multicenter observational longitudinal study. Consecutive adult cancer patients followed till death during a four-month period and undergoing PS were eligible. Symptom control and level of consciousness were registered every eight hours to death.

RESULTS: About 4276 patients were screened, 2894 followed till death, and 531 (18%) underwent PS. PS rate was 15% in HC and 21% in HS (P < 0.001). Principal refractory symptoms were delirium (54%) and dyspnea (45%), respectively, more common in HC (P < 0.001) and HS (P = 0.03). Informed consent was not obtained in 72% of patients but achieved by 96% of families. Midazolam was the most used drug (94% HS vs. 75% HC; P < 0.001) mainly by continuous infusion (74% HC vs. 89% HS; P < 0.001). PS duration was less than 48 hours in 67% of patients. Hydration during PS was less frequent in HC (27% vs. 49%; P < 0.001). In the eight hours before death, consciousness level was unrousable to mild physical stimulation in 81% and symptom control complete in 89% of cases.

CONCLUSION: Our results show feasibility of PS in HC and HS and suggest setting differences in rates, indications, and practice of PS, possibly related to patients' selection or care organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-43
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Volume56
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

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