Find out what Australian researchers are publishing in palliative care 

The following lists palliative care research primarily conducted by Australian research groups. The list is based on application of the CareSearch search filter for palliative care to identify articles held within the PubMed database and corresponding to the strongest evidence. Articles have been selected based on relevance and new articles are added on a weekly basis.

Whilst not an exhaustive list, the aim is to keep the community informed by providing a snapshot of recent research findings and planned studies in the Australian setting.

15 May 2024

The role of pharmacist in community palliative care-a scoping review

Thrimawithana TR, Spence M, Lee M, Naysoe N, Hanna S, Yako G, et al.

Objectives: Dynamic and adaptive services that provide timely access to care are pivotal to ensuring patients with palliative needs experience high-quality care. Patients who have palliative care needs may require symptomatic relief with medicines and, therefore, may engage with community pharmacists frequently. However, there is limited evidence for pharmacists' involvement in community palliative care models. Therefore, a scoping review was conducted to identify pharmacists' role in community palliative care.

Methods: A systematic search strategy was implemented across PubMed, PsychINFO, CINAHL, and Embase databases. Articles were screened by abstract and full text against inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Key findings: Five articles (two from Australia, two from England, and one from Scotland) met the inclusion criteria and described interventions involving pharmacists in community palliative care. This review has identified that the inclusion of trained pharmacists in community palliative care teams can improve the quality of care provided for patients with palliative needs. Pharmacists are able to undertake medication reviews and provide education to patients and other healthcare professionals on the quality use of palliative care medicines. Additionally, the underutilization of community pharmacists in palliative care, the need for further training of pharmacists, and improved community pharmacy access to patient information to deliver community palliative care were identified.

Conclusion: Pharmacists can play a vital role in community palliative care to enhance the quality of life of patients. There is a need for greater pharmacist education/training, improved interprofessional communication, improved access to patient information and sustainable funding to strengthen community-based palliative care.

© The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

15 May 2024

The matter of grief, loss and bereavement in families of those living and dying in residential aged care setting: A systematic review.

Vandersman P, Chakraborty A, Rowley G, Tieman J.

Abstract

The grief, loss and bereavement needs of the families of those living and dying in residential aged care setting is not very well understood. This systematic review examines grief, loss, and bereavement experience of, and interventions relating to, family caregivers of those entering, living and dying in residential aged care. Out of 2023 papers that were identified, 35 met the inclusion criteria which included (n=28) qualitative and (n=7) quantitative intervention studies. The qualitative findings indicated quality of care provided to the resident at the end of their life, and after death care influenced family caregivers' grief reactions. The intervention studies revealed that educational interventions have the potential to lead to some benefits in the context of grief loss and bereavement outcomes. Recognizing the emotional experiences and support needs of families and carers may enhance the understanding of the ageing, caring, dying, grieving pathway for older people and their families.

6 May 2024

Supported Privacy: An essential principle for end-of-life care for children and families in the PICU.

Butler AE, Pasek TA, Clark TJ, Broden EG.

Abstract

Caring for children and their families at the end-of-life is an essential but challenging aspect of care in the PICU. During and following a child's death, families often report a simultaneous need for protected privacy and ongoing supportive presence from staff. Balancing these seemingly paradoxical needs can be difficult for PICU staff and can often lead to the family feeling intruded upon or abandoned during their end-of-life experience. In this "Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Perspectives" piece, we reframe provision of privacy at the end-of-life in the PICU and describe an essential principle that aims to help the interprofessional PICU team simultaneously meet these two opposing family needs: "Supported Privacy." In addition, we offer concrete recommendations to actualize "Supported Privacy" in the PICU, focusing on environmental considerations, practical needs, and emotional responses. By incorporating the principles of "Supported Privacy" into end-of-life care practices, clinicians can support the delivery of high-quality care that meets the needs of children and families navigating the challenges and supports of end-of-life in the PICU.

Copyright © 2024 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies.

6 May 2024

Certainty is an illusion: Lessons for palliative care.

MacLeod RD.

No abstract available

30 April 2024

Tailored videoconferencing counselling program to support family carers of people living with dementia during the transition to permanent residential care: A pilot and feasibility randomised trial.

Brooks D, Wyles K, Pachana NA, Beattie E, Gaugler JE.

Background: Decisions surrounding the permanent residential care placement of people living with dementia can be stressful and distressing; however, providing access to targeted information and support prior to placement may help carers better cope. This mixed methods study aimed to test the feasibility, acceptability, and potential benefits of providing a tailored, individual counselling program (the Residential Care Transition Module), delivered via videoconferencing, to Australian family carers of a relative with dementia during the transition to permanent residential care.

Methods: A total of 18 family carers were randomly allocated to receive either the counselling intervention (six sessions delivered over 12 weeks) or a check-in call, delivered by a trained Transition Counsellor. Both groups received help-sheets about residential care, coping with placement, and managing feelings. Carers completed online surveys about stress, guilt, anxiety, depression, grief, and support for caring at baseline and four months post-baseline. Carers were also invited to participate in semi-structured exit interviews, conducted after follow-up surveys were completed. Process data relating to recruitment, retention, intervention dose and delivery were collected via logs. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and repeated measures ANOVA. Qualitative data, relating to feasibility, acceptability, and perceived benefits of the program, were analysed using the 'framework' approach developed by the Medical Research Council to inform the process evaluation of complex interventions.

Results: Qualitative findings indicated that delivery of the counselling program during the transition period was deemed by participants to be feasible and acceptable. Delivery via videoconferencing was deemed convenient and acceptable, with few technical issues. The skills and knowledge of the Transition Counsellor were perceived to be important mechanisms of impact. Though not statistically significant, promising quantitative findings were identified in terms of reduced carer stress and guilt and improved support for caring.

Conclusions: Delivery of a tailored counselling program via videoconferencing to family carers of people living with dementia during the transition to residential care was feasible and acceptable. The program has the potential to improve transitional support to family carers.

Trial registration: This study was registered in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12621001462875.

© 2024. The Author(s).

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Last updated 30 April 2024