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J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2014 Dec;28(4):394-8. doi: 10.3109/15360288.2014.959235. Epub 2014 Oct 14.

Assessment of pain and other symptoms in Mexican patients with advanced illness.


Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial, and spiritual. During this stage, several symptoms appear and contribute to a decrement in the quality of life. We performed a retrospective study evaluating medical records of terminally ill patients who attended a specialized pain and palliative medicine service. The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) was used to document symptoms intensity. Data analysis was carried out at two times: the initial assessment and the last visit before death. We analyzed thirty-eight cases of which 58% were women (22 cases) and the mean age of the sample was 60.7 years (SD: 15.6). All cases had an oncologic disease classified as end-stage cancer and were considered as palliative patients. Symptom intensity was documented by the ESAS in two different moments: pain 3.7 (SD: 3.2) vs. 4.1 (SD: 3.4), nausea 1.4 (SD: 3.2) vs. 1.8 (SD: 3.3), depression 3.4 (SD: 3.4) vs. 4.3 (SD: 3.7), anxiety 3 (SD: 3.5) vs. 2.4 (SD: 3.6), weakness 4.8 (SD: 3.5) vs. 6.2 (SD: 3.6), dyspnea 1.1 (SD: 2.7) vs. 2.8 (SD: 3.4), anorexia 3.5 (SD: 3.7) vs. 4.7 (SD: 3.8), and somnolence 2.6 (SD: 3.5) vs. 4.9 (SD: 3.5). Statistical significance was found in weakness, dyspnea, and somnolence. We found the ESAS a useful tool for symptom assessment. In this study, we document the prevalence of symptoms at the end of life in a Spanish-speaking country. Physicians trained in pain and palliative medicine managed those symptoms, and we observed that symptoms maintained the same intensity. There is the possibility that the intervention made by those clinicians modified the symptomatic outcome in those patients. Evaluation of effective protocols for symptom management at the end of life is needed.


end-stage disease; pain; palliative; symptoms

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