Palliative Care In The Context Of Immune And Targeted Therapies: A Qualitative Study Of Bereaved Carers’ Experiences In Metastatic Melanoma
Immune and targeted therapies continue to transform treatment outcomes for those with metastatic melanoma. However, the role of palliative care within this treatment paradigm is not well understood.
To explore bereaved carers’ experiences of immune and targeted therapy treatment options towards end of life for patients with metastatic melanoma.
An interpretive, qualitative study using a social constructivist framework was utilised. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed using grounded theory methods.
Participants ( n = 20) were bereaved carers of patients who had received some form of immune and/or targeted therapy at one of three Australian metropolitan melanoma treatment centres.
Carers struggled to reconcile the positive discourse around the success of immune and targeted therapies in achieving long-term disease control, and the underlying uncertainty in predicting individual responses to therapy. Expectations that immune and targeted therapies necessarily provide longer-term survival were evident. Difficulty in prognostication due to clinical uncertainty and a desire to maintain hope resulted in lack of preparedness for treatment failure and end of life.
Immune and targeted therapies have resulted in increased prognostic challenges. There is a need to engage, educate and support patients and carers to prepare and plan amid these challenges. Educational initiatives must focus on improving communication between patients, carers and clinicians; the differences between palliative and end-of-life care; and increased competency of clinicians in having goals-of-care discussions. Clinicians must recognise and communicate the benefit of collaborative palliative care to meet patient and family needs holistically and comprehensively.