Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Journal of pain and symptom management, May 2008, vol. 35, no. 5

Factors correlated with fatigue in terminally ill cancer patients: a longitudinal study.
Okuyama-Toru, Akechi-Tatsuo, Shima-Yasuo, Sugahara-Yuriko et al
Fatigue is among the most distressing symptoms experienced by terminally ill cancer patients. It is necessary to clarify factors correlated with fatigue to develop effective management strategies. A consecutive sample of cancer patients newly registered in the Palliative Care Unit (PCU) was assessed on three occasions: at the second visit to the outpatient clinic of the PCU (Time 1), three weeks after the Time 1 session over the telephone (Time 2), and at admission to the PCU (Time 3). The patients' fatigue and a broad range of biopsychosocial factors were assessed using the validated questionnaires, structured interviews, and medical record reviews at Time 1 and Time 3. Fatigue was the only factor assessed at Time 2. Two hundred patients participated in the Time 1 session, and 129 and 73 were followed at Time 2 and Time 3, respectively. Greater fatigue at Time 1 was significantly correlated with psychological distress, lower Karnofsky Performance Status score, dyspnea, and appetite loss (adjusted coefficients of determination (R(2))=0.49). Greater fatigue at Time 2 was significantly correlated with psychological distress, lower Karnofsky Performance Status and fatigue at Time 1 (adjusted R (2)=0.51). Greater fatigue at Time 3 was significantly correlated with changes for the worse in psychological distress, Karnofsky Performance Status, and dyspnea severity during the period between Time 1 and Time 3, after adjusting for Time 1 fatigue (adjusted R(2) =0.54). The results indicate that fatigue in terminally ill cancer patients is determined by both physical and psychological factors. It may be important to include psychological intervention in the multidimensional management of fatigue in this population, in addition to physical and nursing interventions.

Potential drug interactions in cancer patients receiving supportive care exclusively.
p. 535-43
Riechelmann-Rachel-P, Zimmermann-Camilla, Chin-Sheray-N, Wang-Lisa et al
Cancer patients at the end of life often take many medications and are at risk for drug interactions. The purpose of this study was to describe the epidemiology of potential drug interactions in cancer patients receiving supportive care exclusively. We retrospectively reviewed the charts of consecutive adult cancer outpatients attending palliative care clinics at the Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, Canada. Drugs were screened for interactions by the Drug Interaction Facts software, which classifies interactions by levels of severity (major, moderate, and minor) and scientific evidence (1-5, with 1=the strongest level of evidence). Among 372 eligible patients, 250 potential drug interactions were identified in 115 patients (31%, 95% confidence interval 26%-36%). The most common involved warfarin and phenytoin. Most interactions were classified as being of moderate severity (59%) and 42% of them were supported by Levels 1-3 of evidence. In multivariable analysis, increasing age (P<0.001), presence of comorbidity (P=0.001), cancer type (brain tumors, P<0.001), and increasing number of drugs (P<0.001) were associated with risk of drug interactions. Potential drug interactions are common in palliative care and mostly involve warfarin and anticonvulsants. Older patients, those with comorbid conditions, brain tumor patients, and those taking many medications are at greater risk of drug interactions.

Mapping levels of palliative care development: a global view.
p. 469-85
Wright-Michael, Wood-Justin, Lynch-Thomas, Clark-David.
Palliative care is coming to be regarded as a human right. Yet globally, palliative care development appears patchy and comparative data about the distribution of services are generally unavailable. Our purpose is to categorize hospice-palliative care development, country by country, throughout the world, and then depict this development in a series of world and regional maps. We adopt a multimethod approach, which involves the synthesis of evidence from published and grey literature, regional experts, and a task force of the European Association of Palliative Care. Development is categorized using a four-part typology constructed during a previous review of palliative care in Africa. The four categories are (1) no identified hospice-palliative care activity, (2) capacity building activity but no service, (3) localized palliative care provision, and (4) countries where palliative care activities are approaching integration with mainstream service providers. We found palliative care services in 115/234 countries. Total countries in each category are as follows: (1) no identified activity 78 (33%), (2) capacity building 41 (18%), (3) localized provision 80 (34%), and (4) approaching integration 35 (15%). The ratio of services to population among Group 4 countries ranges from 1:43,000 (in the UK) to 1:4.28 million (in Kenya); among Group 3 countries it ranges from 1:14,000 (in Gibraltar) to 1:158 million (in Pakistan). The typology differentiates levels of palliative care development across the four hemispheres and in rich and poor settings. Although half of the world's countries have a palliative care service, far more are needed before such services are generally accessible worldwide.

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