Conference Coverage

Conference News Roundup—European Academy of Neurology


EAN Develops Guideline on Palliative Care of Patients With Severe MS

A cohort of 934 individuals affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) from seven European countries played an instrumental part in developing the European Academy of Neurology’s (EAN) new guideline on palliative care for people with severe MS. “There were 751 MS patients and 183 caregiver relatives involved,” said Sascha Köpke, PhD, Professor of Nursing Research at the University of Lübeck in Germany.

With the involvement of patients and their families in a new guideline, the EAN is emphasizing shared decision-making as an increasingly important concept that underscores patient autonomy and promotes the individualization of diagnosis and therapy. According to this approach, patients and physicians undergo a detailed consultation and then choose the medical treatment. The EAN has supported this patient-centered approach for a long time, and it is becoming increasingly established in other medical areas as well.

“It was resource- and time-intensive to include consumers in the guideline process, but also highly rewarding,” said Prof. Köpke. “Patients and caregivers really helped us to formulate the guideline in a way that was in line with actual practice and their own needs. We were able to see clearly which of our ideas met with approval or rejection.” The comments were also instructive for the group of EAN experts. They raised new aspects as well as sensitive issues that had been left out of the first draft.

Two approaches were chosen to ensure that consumers would participate. “First, there was an international online survey launched by national MS societies following a trial run involving 20 patients and 18 caregivers. Second, we invited MS patients and caregiver relatives to focus group meetings,” said Prof. Köpke. The majority of participants approved the topics proposed by the EAN group of experts. About 98% agreed to incorporate the subject of multidisciplinary rehabilitation in the guideline. There were 569 free comments, of which 182 (32%) pertained to the specified topics. A further 227 comments (40%) addressed additional topics, of which 16 were pertinent to the guideline. Five of the focus group meetings corroborated the results of the online survey and helped to work out important issues for the individuals affected. “The involvement of patients and caregivers increases the reliability and relevance of the guideline for clinical practice,” said Prof. Köpke.


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