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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24925

Title: Effectiveness of Specialized Palliative Care for Patients with Advanced Cancer
Authors: Zimmermann, Camilla C. U.
Advisor: Tannock, Ian
Department: Medical Science
Keywords: palliative care
quality of life
randomized controlled trial
Issue Date: 2-Sep-2010
Abstract: Despite the rapid development of palliative care teams, evidence for their effectiveness in oncology care is lacking. This thesis reviews and contributes towards this evidence, focusing on the randomized controlled trial as a research method. We conducted a systematic review of 22 trials reviewed that measured effectiveness of specialized palliative care. Family satisfaction with care improved in seven of 10 studies, but only four of 13 trials assessing quality of life and one of 14 assessing symptoms showed a benefit of the intervention. Conclusions were limited by methodologic problems in all of the trials. We conducted a phase II study of the efficacy of a palliative care team for symptom control and satisfaction of 150 patients with advanced cancer. Symptom severity (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System Distress Score) improved at one week and one month, as did patient satisfaction (all p<0.0001). We investigated factors associated with symptom severity and response for patients enrolled in the phase II study. Symptoms at baseline were worse for women and those with worse performance status (both p<0.005); female gender and worse baseline symptom severity independently predicted symptom improvement (both p<0.05). We planned and initiated an RCT of the effectiveness of an early palliative care intervention for improvement of health-related quality of life (HRQL) and satisfaction with care. Using baseline data from this RCT, we examined factors associated with HRQL in patients with advanced cancer. The strongest determinants of overall HRQL (combined FACT-G total score and FACIT-Sp Meaning and Peace subscore) were increased age (p<0.001), good performance status (p<0.001) and survival time >6 months (p=0.001). Compared to patients receiving cancer treatment, those awaiting new treatment had worse emotional well-being (p<0.001) while those on surveillance or whose treatment had been stopped had worse existential well-being (p=0.03). Male gender predicted better emotional and physical well-being and lower income predicted worse social well-being. Lastly, we developed recommendations for those planning an RCT in a palliative care population, incorporating information from the studies presented. Although such RCTs are challenging to conduct, they are feasible and necessary to improve the evidence base for the treatment of patients with advanced cancer.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24925
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Institute of Medical Science - Doctoral theses

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