Palliative care for people with substance use disorder and multiple problems: A qualitative study on experiences of patients and proxies
Number of pages
SourceBMC Palliative Care, 18, (2019), article 56
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
Primary and Community Care
BMC Palliative Care
SubjectAll institutes and research themes of the Radboud University Medical Center; Experimental Psychopathology and Treatment; Radboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
Background: Systematic research into palliative care (PC) for people with substance use disorder (SUD) and multiple problems is scarce. The existing literature shows problems in the organizational structure of this care, e.g., lack of clear care pathways. Furthermore, negative attitudes of healthcare professionals (HCPs) and stigmatization surrounding SUD, and patients’ care-avoidance and non-disclosure of substance use are hindering factors in providing timely and person-centered PC. Furthermore, the experiences and needs of patients and proxies themselves are unknown. Therefore, this study aims to explore which problems and needs patients with SUD and multiple problems, and their proxies, experience in a PC phase. Methods: Data-collection of this qualitative study consisted of semi-structured interviews with patients with SUD and multiple problems in a PC phase, and their proxies, about their experiences in PC and their well-being. Interviews were inductively analyzed. Results: Nine patients and three proxies were included. Six patients suffered from COPD, one patient from cirrhosis of the liver and two patients from both. Seven patients stayed in a nursing home and two had a room in either a social care service (hostel) or an assisted living home where medical care was provided. Five themes were identified: 1) healthcare delivery (including HCPs behaviour and values); 2) end-of-life (EOL) preferences (mostly concerning only the individual patient and the 'here-and-the-now'); 3) multidimensional problems; 4) coping (active and passive) and; 5) closed communication. Proxies’ experiences with healthcare differed. Emotionally, they were all burdened by their histories with the patients. Conclusions: This study shows that talking about and anticipating on PC with this patient-group appears hard due to patients’ closed and avoiding communication. Furthermore, some of patients’ EOL-preferences and needs, and coping-strategies, seem to differ from the more generally-accepted ideas and practices. Therefore, educating HCPs in communicating with this patient-group, is needed.
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