Background: Insights into symptoms and interventions at the end of life are needed for providing adequate palliative care, but are largely lacking for people with intellectual disabilities (IDs). Objectives: We aimed at determining the prevalence rates of physician-reported symptoms from the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) at the moment that physicians recognized patient's death in the foreseeable future. In addition, we aimed at exploring provided interventions as reported by physicians in the period between physicians' recognition of death in the foreseeable future and patients' death. Measurements: In this study, 81 physicians for people with IDs (ID-physicians) completed a retrospective survey about their last patient with IDs with a nonsudden death. Results: On average, patients suffered from three of the eight ESAS symptoms. Fatigue (83%), drowsiness (65%), and decreasing intake (57%) were most reported. ID-physicians reported a median number of four interventions. Interventions were mostly aimed at somatic problems, such as pain and shortness of breath. Burdensome interventions such as surgery or artificial respiration were least or not reported. Palliative sedation was provided in a third of all cases. Conclusion: Although ID-physicians reported a variety of their patients' symptoms and of provided interventions at the end of life, using adequate symptom assessment tools suitable for people with IDs and continuous multidisciplinary collaboration in palliative care are essential to capture symptoms as fully as possible.,
Journal of Palliative Medicine
Department of General Practice

Vrijmoeth, C., Christians, M.G.M. (Milou G.M.), Festen, D., Groot, M., van der Heide, A., van der Rijt, C., … Echteld, M. (2016). Physician-reported symptoms and interventions in people with intellectual disabilities approaching end of life. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 19(11), 1142–1147. doi:10.1089/jpm.2015.0544