Monday, March 27, 2006

Cancer symptom assessment review; Death-bed phenomena

2 quickies:

1) The Journal of Clinical Oncology has published a review of symptom assessment instruments in cancer by, not surprisingly, our friends at the Cleveland Clinic. It's probably not of interest to the general palliative care audience, but would be for those involved in research, quality improvement, or symptom data collection for whatever reason. Among other things, I found particularly interesting the authors' discussion of the difficulties of finding articles for the review in Medline, CINAHL, and EMBASE. ~60% of their articles in fact were found by hand searching and not these databases, evidencing that these databases aren't designed for this kind of research.

2) The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care has a curious article that I can't resist blogging about because it it's a topic that's interested me since I began work in palliative care: death-bed phenomena (DBP). DBP here means visions and hallucinations (of dead loved ones, angels, heaven, Saints, etc.) of moribund patients. The authors make an interesting distinction between "regular" hallucinations and DBP by defining DBP as perceptions that have significant personal meaning to the patient, as opposed to non-meaningful ones (bugs on the walls, etc). The study is really a summary of the experiences of some members of a palliative care team who were interviewed about DBP. Not surprisingly these were perceived as common, as indicating imminent death, and generally being very existentially meaningful and important to dying patients and their families. A good read.

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