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The current situation in education and training of health-care professionals across Africa to optimise the delivery of palliative care for cancer patients

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      Abstract

      The need for palliative care education remains vital to contribute to the quality of life of patients, both adults and children, with cancer in Africa. The number of patients with cancer continues to rise, and with them the burden of palliative care needs. Palliative care has been present in Africa for nearly four decades, and a number of services are developing in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. However, the needs of cancer patients remain a challenge. Education and training initiatives have developed throughout this time, using a combination of educational methods, including, more recently, e-learning initiatives.The role of international and national organisations in supporting education has been pivotal in developing models of education and training that are robust, sustainable, and affordable. Developing a material for education and professional development needs to continue in close collaboration with that already in production in order to optimise available resources. Seeking ways to evaluate programmes in terms of their impact on patient care remains an important part of programme delivery. This article reviews the current situation.

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      The public health strategy for palliative care.

      The quality of life of at least 100 million people would have improved--if today's knowledge of palliative care was accessible to everyone. A Public Health Strategy (PHS) offers the best approach for translating new knowledge and skills into evidence-based, cost-effective interventions that can reach everyone in the population. For PHSs to be effective, they must be incorporated by governments into all levels of their health care systems and owned by the community. This strategy will be most effective if it involves the society through collective and social action. The World Health Organization (WHO) pioneered a PHS for integrating palliative care into a country's health care system. It included advice and guidelines to governments on priorities and how to implement both national palliative care programs and national cancer control programs where palliative care will be one of the four key pillars of comprehensive cancer control. The WHO PHS addresses 1) appropriate policies; 2) adequate drug availability; 3) education of policy makers, health care workers, and the public; and 4) implementation of palliative care services at all levels throughout the society. This approach has demonstrated that it provides an effective strategy for integrating/establishing palliative care into a country.
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        Comparing hospice and nonhospice patient survival among patients who die within a three-year window.

        There is a widespread belief by some health care providers and the wider community that medications used to alleviate symptoms may hasten death in hospice patients. Conversely, there is a clinical impression among hospice providers that hospice might extend some patients' lives. We studied the difference of survival periods of terminally ill patients between those using hospices and not using hospices. We performed retrospective statistical analysis on selected cohorts from large paid claim databases of Medicare beneficiaries for five types of cancer and congestive heart failure (CHF) patients. We analyzed the survival of 4493 patients from a sample of 5% of the entire Medicare beneficiary population for 1998-2002 associated with six narrowly defined indicative markers. For the six patient populations combined, the mean survival was 29 days longer for hospice patients than for nonhospice patients. The mean survival period was also significantly longer for the hospice patients with CHF, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and marginally significant for colon cancer (P=0.08). Mean survival was not significantly different (statistically) for hospice vs. nonhospice patients with breast or prostate cancer. Across groups studied, hospice enrollment is not significantly associated with shorter survival, but for certain terminally ill patients, hospice is associated with longer survival times. The claims-based method used death within three years as a surrogate for a clinical judgment to recommend hospice, which means our findings apply to cases where a clinician is very sure the patient will die within three years, and it points to the need to validate these findings.
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          Validation of a core outcome measure for palliative care in Africa: the APCA African Palliative Outcome Scale

          Background Despite the burden of progressive incurable disease in Africa, there is almost no evidence on patient care or outcomes. A primary reason has been the lack of appropriate locally-validated outcome tools. This study aimed to validate a multidimensional scale (the APCA African Palliative Outcome Scale) in a multi-centred international study. Methods Validation was conducted across 5 African services and in 3 phases: Phase 1. Face validity: content analysis of qualitative interviews and cognitive interviewing of POS; Phase 2. Construct validity: correlation of POS with Missoula-Vitas Quality of Life Index (Spearman's rank tests); Phase 3. Internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha calculated twice using 2 datasets), test-retest reliability (intraclass correlation coefficients calculated for 2 time points) and time to complete (calculated twice using 2 datasets). Results The validation involved 682 patients and 437 family carers, interviewed in 8 different languages. Phase 1. Qualitative interviews (N = 90 patients; N = 38 carers) showed POS items mapped well onto identified needs; cognitive interviews (N = 73 patients; N = 29 carers) demonstrated good interpretation; Phase 2. POS-MVQoLI Spearman's rank correlations were low-moderate as expected (N = 285); Phase 3. (N = 307, 2nd assessment mean 21.2 hours after first, SD 7.2) Cronbach's Alpha was 0.6 on both datasets, indicating expected moderate internal consistency; test-retest found high intra-class correlation coefficients for all items (0.78-0.89); median time to complete 7 mins, reducing to 5 mins at second visit. Conclusions The APCA African POS has sound psychometric properties, is well comprehended and brief to use. Application of this tool offers the opportunity to at last address the omissions of palliative care research in Africa.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Palliative Medicine, Cardiff University, Velindre Hospital, Cardiff CF14 2TL, Wales, UK
            [2 ] Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa and Senior Lecturer, palliative medicine, University of Cape Town Anzio Road, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa
            [3 ]African Palliative Care Association, PO Box 72518, Plot 95, Dr Gibbons Road, Makindye, Kampala, Uganda
            [4 ] Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital and PATCH-SA (SA Children’s Palliative Care Network), Lecturer, palliative medicine, University of Cape Town Anzio Road, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa
            [5 ] Honorary Professor, Makerere University, PO Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda; International Palliative Care Consultant
            Author notes
            Correspondence to: Fiona Rawlinson. Fiona.Rawlinson@ 123456wales.nhs.uk
            Journal
            Ecancermedicalscience
            Ecancermedicalscience
            ecancermedicalscience
            ecancermedicalscience
            Cancer Intelligence
            1754-6605
            2014
            11 December 2014
            : 8
            4303614
            10.3332/ecancer.2014.492
            can-8-492
            © the authors; licensee ecancermedicalscience.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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