Prognosis Does not Change the Landscape: Palliative Home Care Clients Experience High Rates of Pain and Nausea, Regardless of Prognosis
Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
Background: Most individuals who typically receive palliative care (PC) tend to have cancer and a relatively short prognosis (< 6 months). People with other life-limiting illnesses can also benefit from a palliative care approach. However, little is known about those who receive palliative home care in Ontario, Canada's largest province. To address this gap, the goal of this project was to understand the needs, symptoms and potential differences between those with a shorter (< 6 months) and longer prognosis (6+ months) for individuals receiving PC in the community.
Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted using interRAI Palliative Care (interRAI PC) assessment data collected between 2011 and 2018. Individuals with a shorter prognosis (< 6 months; n = 48,019 or 64.1%) were compared to those with a longer prognosis (6+ months; n = 26,945) across several clinical symptoms. The standardized difference (stdiff), between proportions, was calculated to identify statistically meaningful differences between those with a shorter and longer prognosis. Values of the stdiff of 0.2 or higher (absolute value) indicated a statistically significant difference.
Results: Overall, cancer was the most prevalent diagnosis (83.2%). Those with a shorter prognosis were significantly more likely to experience fatigue (75.3% vs. 59.5%; stdiff = 0.34) and shortness of breath at rest (22.1% vs. 13.4%; stdiff = 0.23). However, the two groups were similar in terms of severe pain (73.5% vs. 66.5%; stdiff = - 0.15), depressive symptoms (13.2% vs. 10.7%; stdiff = 0.08) and nausea (35.7% vs. 29.4%; stdiff = 0.13).
Conclusions: These results highlight the importance of earlier identification of individuals who could benefit from a palliative approach to their care as individuals with a longer prognosis also experience high rates of symptoms such as pain and nausea. Providing PC earlier in the illness trajectory has the potential to improve an individual's overall quality of life throughout the duration of their illness.
Williams N, Hermans K, Stevens T, Hirdes JP, Declercq A, Cohen J, Guthrie DM. Prognosis does not change the landscape: Palliative home care clients experience high rates of pain and nausea, regardless of prognosis. BMC Palliative Care 2021; 20:165. doi: 10.1186/s12904-021-00851-x.
Published in BMC Palliative Care 2022, under a CC BY 4.0 license.