Wednesday, 25 June 2008

European journal of cancer care Jan 2008 vol. 17 no. 1

Opioid use in dying patients in hospice and hospital, with and without specialist palliative care team involvement.
p. 65-71
Newspapers claim that patients in hospices have their opioid doses increased to a point at which doctors know that they will die. However, research has produced conflicting results about whether hospice patients receive higher doses of opioids. This study investigated the differences in opioid prescribing between cancer patients dying in hospice and hospital with and without hospital palliative care team (HPCT) involvement and non-cancer patients dying in hospital, in Dundee, UK. The only statistically significant difference in the mean dose of opioids was that the cancer patients were prescribed and received higher doses of opioids than non-cancer patients. There was no statistically significant difference in the mean dose of opioids prescribed to and given to the different groups of cancer patients dying in different settings, indicating that the claims of the press are untrue. The cancer patients dying in hospital who were not on the HPCT records more commonly received Tramadol, which may indicate a reluctance of hospital doctors to move from weak opioids to strong opioids.

Methodological issues related to assessing and measuring quality of life in patients with cancer: implications for patient care.
p. 56-64
McCabe-C, Begley-C, Collier-S, McCann-S.
Consideration of quality-of-life issues by all members of the healthcare team is essential in caring for people with cancer. In cancer research, quality of life is generally classified as health- related quality of life or individual quality of life. This paper discusses the instruments used to measure quality-of-life outcomes, and the relevance of such findings for healthcare staff in planning and providing effective and patient-centred care. Visual analogue scales (VASs) and questionnaires are commonly used to measure quality of life; however, both types of instruments are criticized because the content may not be relevant to individual patients, and do not distinguish differences between statistical and clinical significances in the findings. Using a combination of questionnaires and VASs may overcome some of these criticisms. In order to interpret the difference between statistical and clinical significance of findings and the associated implications for patient care, a mixed- methods approach to data collection is recommended in quality-of-life studies. This provides meaning and understanding to the quantitative data and individual perspectives on patients' experiences of having cancer. Information from such studies may also be more effective in helping healthcare staff identify relevant issues when planning cancer care services at individual, local and national level.

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