Dying Patients and their Families are Suffering in Silence According to Canadian Survey on Palliative Care

    Eighty-one per cent of Canadians feel more should be done to help
    palliative patients live comfortably yet, there is a lack of discussion
    and understanding of care issues

    MONTREAL, Sept. 25 /CNW/ - Inside Palliative Care in Canada, the largest
national survey of its kind, reveals that 58 per cent of Canadians have never
discussed end-of-life care(1) - this despite the fact that approximately
two-thirds of deaths in Canada each year require this specialized care.(2) The
results were released today to correspond with the 17th International Congress
on Palliative Care in Montreal.
    According to the survey, almost all Canadians believe that dying with
dignity and comfort are of the utmost importance (94 per cent and 95 per cent
respectively)(1) yet, survey results reveal that Canadians neither know about,
nor are comfortable discussing some of the barriers to maintaining comfort and
dignity at end-of-life.(1)
    "The results of Inside Palliative Care in Canada are a call to action for
Canadians to talk openly and honestly about end-of-life care," says Sharon
Baxter, Executive Director of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association
(CHPCA). "Without discussion, families and loved ones are unprepared and often
overwhelmed when they or their grandparent, parent, sibling, child or someone
they know and love are unfortunately faced with the realities of end-of-life


    Palliative care programs and services are beneficial for many Canadians
with advanced illnesses, such as incurable cancer and late-stage heart and
lung disease. With the ageing population and Canada's increasing death rate,
the number of Canadians needing access to care and treatments during late
stages of life is set to grow.(2)
    Despite the fact that 89 per cent of Canadians believe that knowledge of
palliative care is important, 81 per cent of Canadians have not talked to a
healthcare professional about end-of-life care.(1) Nurses also say that their
patients are uncomfortable talking about the many aspects of end-of-life care
that ensure comfort and dignity during the final months, weeks and/or days of
life - such as constipation, washing and pain management.(1)
    "It's time for Canadians and healthcare providers to start talking about
the uncomfortable topics that act as barriers to comfort and dignity during
end-of-life," says Maryse Bouvette, Coordinator of the Palliative Pain and
Symptom Management Consultation Service. "For example, serious, painful and
often debilitating constipation is a common side effect of pain medications
that not many Canadians want to talk about, yet it significantly impacts
comfort and dignity at this very fragile stage of life."
    In fact, 86 per cent of palliative patients taking opioids suffer from
opioid-induced constipation.(3) While the survey reveals that 62 per cent of
nurses view constipation as the most common side effect of pain medication, 42
per cent of nurses don't consider managing constipation to be very important.
Alarmingly, 82 per cent of Canadians have never heard about opioid-induced
    "The real tragedy here is that patients are needlessly suffering when
there are treatment options available to deal with painful issues such as
opioid-induced constipation," says Dr. Yvon Beauchamp, Chief, Palliative Care
Unit, Sacred Heart Hospital, Montréal. "Traditional treatments like laxatives
and enemas do work for some patients, but there are other options such as an
injectable medication that has been shown to be extremely effective, providing
relief very quickly. Canadians need to speak up and ask healthcare
professionals what treatment options are available for them."


    -   Sixty per cent of Canadians are not knowledgeable about palliative
        care despite believing in its importance (89 per cent)
    -   While nurses spend 39 per cent of their time at work ensuring patient
        comfort, this did not include medical care or personal care (washing,
        grooming, managing constipation)
    -   The majority of Canadians (75 per cent) do not know how constipation
        is treated, leaving it to palliative care nurses to drive the
    -   Eighty-one per cent of Canadians feel there should be more done to
        help palliative patients live more comfortably


    This is the largest survey ever conducted to obtain insight into the
knowledge of palliative care in Canada and identify unmet needs of this
increasingly important medical area. Conducted by Leger Marketing, two
separate national online surveys were conducted in this study. The first
survey polled 2,626 adult Canadians of which 1,212 were close to palliative
care. Of these, 356 were involved in providing the care themselves. A second
survey was conducted among 237 Registered Nurses, all worked to some degree in
palliative/end-of-life care.
    For the consumer survey, results from a sample size can be considered
accurate to +/-1.9 per cent 19 times out of 20. For the nurse survey, results
from a sample size can be considered accurate to +/-6.4 per cent 19 times out
of 20.
    The survey was sponsored by Wyeth Canada in collaboration with the
Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.


    Leger Marketing is Canada's largest Marketing Research Firm with offices
in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City and Winnipeg. As well,
Leger Marketing is growing internationally with offices in Philadelphia,
Tampa, Denver and affiliates world-wide.


    The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) is the national
association which provides leadership in hospice palliative care in Canada.
CHPCA offers leadership in the pursuit of excellence in care for persons
approaching death so that the burdens of suffering, loneliness and grief are


    Wyeth (NYSE:  WYE) is one of the world's largest research-driven
pharmaceutical and health care products companies. It is a leader in the
discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceuticals,
vaccines, biotechnology products and non-prescription medicines that improve
the quality of life for people worldwide.

    (1) Leger Marketing. Insider Palliative Care Report
    (2) Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association Fact Sheet: April 2007.
    (3) Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Methylnaltrexone: An exciting opportunity
        Strategic Plan.

For further information:

For further information: Collin Matanowitsch, Manning Selvage & Lee
(MS&L), (416) 847-1330, collin.matanowitsch@mslpr.ca

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