Pain management at the end of life: A comparative study of cancer, dementia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients
Background: Limited data exist concerning the unique pain characteristics of patients with non-cancer terminal diseases referred for inpatient hospice care.
Aims: To define the unique pain characteristics of patients admitted to an acute inpatient hospice setting with end-stage dementia or chronic obstructive lung disease (or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and to compare them to patients with end-stage cancer.
Design: Retrospective patient chart review. Demographic, physiological, pain parameters, and medication utilization data were extracted. Associations between pain characteristics, medication utilization, and admission diagnoses were assessed. Analyses included descriptive statistics.
Setting/participants: In total, 146 patients admitted to an acute inpatient hospice between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012 with an underlying primary diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (n = 51), dementia (n = 48), or cancer (n = 47).
Results: Pain was highly prevalent in all diagnostic groups, with cancer patients experiencing more severe pain on admission. Cancer patients received a significantly higher cumulative opioid dose compared with dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. Pain control within 24 h of pain onset was achieved in less than half of all patient groups with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients the least likely to achieve pain control.
Conclusions: Despite the fact that pain is the most common complaint at the end of life, pain management may be suboptimal for some primary diagnoses. Admission diagnosis is the strongest predictor of pain control. Patient with cancer achieve the best pain control, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients are the least likely to have their pain adequately treated.
Romem, Anat; Tom, Sarah E.; Beauchene, Michelle; Babington, Lynn M.; Scharf, Steven M.; and Romem, Ayal, "Pain management at the end of life: A comparative study of cancer, dementia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients" (2015). Nursing and Health Studies Faculty Publications. 60.
Romem, Anat, Sarah E. Tom, Michelle Beauchene, Lynn Babington, Steven M. Scharf, and Ayal Romem. (February 2015). "Pain management at the end of life: A comparative study of cancer, dementia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients." Palliative medicine. DOI: 10.1177/0269216315570411