Community-based short-term integrated palliative and supportive care reduces symptom distress for older people with chronic noncancer conditions compared with usual care: a randomised controlled single-blind mixed method trial

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Abstract

Background: Globally, a rising number of people live into advanced age and die with multimorbidity and frailty. Palliative care is advocated as a person-centred approach to reduce health-related suffering and promote quality of life. However, no evidence-based interventions exist to deliver community-based palliative care for this population. Aim: To evaluate the impact of the short-term integrated palliative and supportive care intervention for older people living with chronic noncancer conditions and frailty on clinical and economic outcomes and perceptions of care. Design: Single-blind trial with random block assignment to usual care or the intervention and usual care. The intervention comprised integrated person-centred palliative care delivered by multidisciplinary palliative care teams working with general practitioners and community nurses. Main outcome was change in five key palliative care symptoms from baseline to 12-weeks. Data analysis used intention to treat and complete cases to examine the mean difference in change scores and effect size between the trial arms. Economic evaluation used cost-effectiveness planes and qualitative interviews explored perceptions of the intervention. Setting/participants: Four National Health Service general practices in England with recruitment of patients aged ≥75 years, with moderate to severe frailty, chronic noncancer condition(s) and ≥2 symptoms or concerns, and family caregivers when available. Results: 50 patients were randomly assigned to receive usual care (n = 26, mean age 86.0 years) or the intervention and usual care (n = 24, mean age 85.3 years), and 26 caregivers (control n = 16, mean age 77.0 years; intervention n = 10, mean age 77.3 years). Participants lived at home (n = 48) or care home (n = 2). Complete case analysis (n = 48) on the main outcome showed reduced symptom distress between the intervention compared with usual care (mean difference -1.20, 95% confidence interval -2.37 to -0.027) and medium effect size (omega squared = 0.071). Symptom distress reduced with decreased costs from the intervention compared with usual care, demonstrating cost-effectiveness. Patient (n = 19) and caregiver (n = 9) interviews generated themes about the intervention of ‘Little things make a big difference’ with optimal management of symptoms and ‘Care beyond medicines’ of psychosocial support to accommodate decline and maintain independence. Conclusions: This palliative and supportive care intervention is an effective and cost-effective approach to reduce symptom distress for older people severely affected by chronic noncancer conditions. It is a clinically effective way to integrate specialist palliative care with primary and community care for older people with chronic conditions. Further research is indicated to examine its implementation more widely for people at home and in care homes. Trial registration: Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN 45837097 Tweetable abstract: Specialist palliative care integrated with district nurses and GPs is cost-effective to reduce symptom distress for older people severely affected by chronic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103978
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Volume120
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Aged
  • palliative care
  • community health nursing
  • General Practice
  • Randomized clinical trial
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Qualitative interviews

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