• 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.

      Hulbert-Williams, NJ; Norwood, S; Gillanders, D; Finucane, AM; Spiller, J; Strachen, J; Millington, S; Kreft, J; Swash, B; University of Chester; The University of Edinburgh; Marie Curie Hospice Edinburgh (BMC, 2021-06-25)
      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.
    • Research Evaluating Staff Training Online for Resilience (RESTORE): Protocol for a single-arm feasibility study of an online acceptance and commitment therapy intervention to improve staff wellbeing in palliative care settings

      Finucane, Anne; Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J.; Swash, Brooke; Spiller, Juliet A.; Lydon, Brigid; Gillanders, David; University of Edinburgh; Marie Curie Hospice Edinburgh; University of Chester (AMRC Open Research, 2021-11-18)
      Background Palliative care workers commonly experience workplace stress and distress. General stressors include unmanageable workloads and staff shortages. Stressors specific to palliative care include regular exposure to death, loss and grief. The COVID pandemic exacerbated exhaustion and burnout across the healthcare system, including for those providing palliative care. Evidence based psychological support interventions, tailored to the needs and context of palliative care workers, are needed. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an established form of cognitive behavioural therapy which uses behavioural psychology, values, acceptance, and mindfulness techniques to improve mental health and wellbeing. ACT is effective in improving workplace wellbeing in many occupational settings. Our study examines the acceptability and feasibility of an online ACT-based intervention to improve mental health and wellbeing in staff caring for people with an advanced progressive illness. Methods A single-arm feasibility trial. We will seek to recruit 30 participants to take part in an 8- week online ACT-based intervention, consisting of three synchronous facilitated group sessions and five asynchronous self-directed learning modules. We will use convergent mixed methods to evaluate the feasibility of the intervention. Quantitative feasibility outcomes will include participant recruitment and retention rates, alongside completion rates of measures assessing stress, quality of life, wellbeing, and psychological flexibility. Focus groups and interviews will explore participant perspectives on the intervention. We will run a stakeholder workshop to further refine the intervention and identify outcomes for use in a future evaluation. We will describe participant perspectives on intervention acceptability, format, content, and perceived impact alongside rates of intervention recruitment, retention, and outcome measure completion. Conclusion We will show whether a brief, online ACT intervention is acceptable to, and feasible for palliative care workers. Findings will be used to further refine the intervention and provide essential information on outcome assessment prior to a full-scale evaluation.
    • Specialist palliative and end-of-life care for patients with cancer and SARS-CoV-2 infection: a European perspective

      Soosaipillai, Gehan; Wu, Anjui; Dettorre, Gino M.; Diamantis, Nikolaos; Chester, John; Moss, Charlotte; Aguilar-Company, Juan; Bower, Mark; Sng, Christopher C. T.; Salazar, Ramon; et al. (Sage, 2021-09-02)
      Background: 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.