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Brief Engagement and Acceptance Coaching for Hospice Settings (the BEACHeS study): Results from a Phase I study of acceptability and initial effectiveness in people with non-curative cancer.Objectives: Transitioning into palliative care is psychologically demanding for people with advanced cancer, and there is a need for acceptable and effective interventions to support this. We aimed to develop and pilot test a brief Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) based intervention to improve quality of life and distress. Methods: Our mixed-method design included: (i) quantitative effectiveness testing using Single Case Experimental Design (SCED), (ii) qualitative interviews with participants, and (iii) focus groups with hospice staff. The five-session, in-person intervention was delivered to 10 participants; five completed at least 80%. Results: At baseline, participants reported poor quality of life but low distress. Most experienced substantial physical health deterioration during the study. SCED analysis methods did not show conclusively significant effects, but there was some indication that outcome improvement followed changes in expected intervention processes variables. Quantitative and qualitative data together demonstrates acceptability, perceived effectiveness and safety of the intervention. Qualitative interviews and focus groups were also used to gain feedback on intervention content and to make design recommendations to maximise success of later feasibility trials. Conclusions: This study adds to the growing evidence base for ACT in people with advanced cancer. A number of potential intervention mechanisms, for example a distress-buffering hypothesis, are raised by our data and these should be addressed in future research using randomised controlled trial designs. Our methodological recommendations—including recruiting non-cancer diagnoses, and earlier in the treatment trajectory—likely apply more broadly to the delivery of psychological intervention in the palliative care setting.
Specialist palliative and end-of-life care for patients with cancer and SARS-CoV-2 infection: a European perspectiveBackground: Specialist palliative care team (SPCT) involvement has been shown to improve symptom control and end-of-life care for patients with cancer, but little is known as to how these have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we report SPCT involvement during the first wave of the pandemic and compare outcomes for patients with cancer who received and did not receive SPCT input from multiple European cancer centres. Methods: From the OnCovid repository (n=1,318), we analysed cancer patients aged ≥18 diagnosed with COVID-19 between 26th February and 22nd June 2020 who had complete specialist palliative care team (SPCT) data (SPCT+ referred; SPCT- not referred). Results: Of 555 eligible patients, 317 were male (57.1%), with a median age of 70 (IQR 20). At COVID-19 diagnosis, 44.7% were on anti-cancer therapy and 53.3% had >1 co-morbidity. 206 patients received SPCT input for symptom control (80.1%), psychological support (54.4%), and/or advance care planning (51%). SPCT+ patients had more DNACPR orders completed prior to (12.6% vs. 3.7%) and during admission (50% vs 22.1%, P<0.001), with more SPCT+ patients deemed suitable for treatment escalation (50% vs. 22.1%, P<0.001). SPCT involvement was associated with higher discharge rates from hospital for end-of-life care (9.7% vs. 0%, P<0.001). End-of-life anticipatory prescribing was higher in SPCT+ patients, with opioids (96.3% vs. 47.1%) and benzodiazepines (82.9% vs. 41.2%) being used frequently for symptom control. Conclusions: SPCT referral facilitated symptom control, emergency care and discharge planning, as well as high rates of referral for psychological support than previously reported. Our study highlighted the critical need of SPCT for patients with cancer during the pandemic and should inform service planning for this population.