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Physicians' opinion and practice with the continuous use of sedatives in the last days of life

Heijltjes, MT; Morita, T; Mori, M; Heckel, M; Klein, C; Stiel, S; Miccinesi, G; ... Rietjens, JA; + view all (2021) Physicians' opinion and practice with the continuous use of sedatives in the last days of life. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2021.07.012. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

CONTEXT: There are few international studies about the continuous use of sedatives (CUS) in the last days of life. OBJECTIVES: We aim to describe the experiences and opinions regarding CUS of physicians caring for terminally ill patients in seven countries. METHODS: Questionnaire study about practices and experiences with CUS in the last days of life among physicians caring for terminally ill patients in Belgium (N=175), Germany (N=546), Italy (N=214), Japan (N=513), the Netherlands (N=829), United Kingdom (N=114) and Singapore (N=21). RESULTS: The overall response rate was 22%. Of the respondents, 88-99% reported that they had clinical experience of CUS in the last 12 months. More than 90% of respondents indicated that they mostly used midazolam for sedation. The use of sedatives to relieve suffering in the last days of life was considered acceptable in cases of physical suffering (87-99%). This percentage was lower but still substantial in cases of psycho-existential suffering in the absence of physical symptoms (45-88%). These percentages were lower when the prognosis was at least several weeks (22- 66% for physical suffering and 5-42% for psycho-existential suffering). Of the respondents, 10% or less agreed with the statement that CUS is unnecessary because suffering can be alleviated with other measures. A substantial proportion (41-95%) agreed with the statement that a competent patient with severe suffering has the right to demand the use of sedatives in the last days of life. CONCLUSION: Many respondents in our study considered CUS acceptable for the relief of physical and psycho-existential suffering in the last days of life. The acceptability was lower regarding CUS for psycho-existential suffering and regarding CUS for patients with a longer life expectancy. FUNDING: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan KEY MESSAGE: : This questionnaire study among physicians caring for terminally ill patients showed that many considered the continuous use of sedatives acceptable to relieve physical and psycho-existential suffering in the last days of life. Respondents' regarded the practice as less acceptable in patients with a longer life expectancy.

Type: Article
Title: Physicians' opinion and practice with the continuous use of sedatives in the last days of life
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2021.07.012
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2021.07.012
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: continuous use of sedatives, deep sedation, end of life care, palliative care, palliative sedation, questionnaire study
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135685
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