Amara Nwosu

MBCHB MRCP PhD


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Digital health priorities for palliative care research

We have deposited our paper “Technology in Palliative Care (TIP): the identification of digital priorities for palliative care research using a modified Delphi method” on the medRxiv preprint server (ahead for formal peer reviewed publication)

The aim of this study was to identify research priority areas for digital health in palliative care.

This is first study to identify digital health research priorities for palliative care and provides guidance for researchers, funders and policy makers to consider areas for future research and development. 

We identified 16 research priority areas for technology in palliative care, representing 8 themes of big data, mobile devices, telehealth, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, the smart home, biotechnology and digital legacy.  Our findings will support researchers, clinicians and policy makers to improve the evidence base in these areas, through further research and development. This work is timely and important, as global palliative care need is increasing but there is a lack of evidence of how digital health can be meaningfully used to support care needs of people with advanced illness.  Therefore, it is important that the risks of using these technologies in palliative care are properly addressed to ensure that these tools are used meaningfully, wisely and safely and do not cause unintentional harm

The pre-print is freely available from the following link. Please note, that this has not been peer reviewed so should not yet be used to guide clinical practice.

Nwosu AC, McGlinchey T, Sanders J, Stanley S, Palfrey J, Lubbers P, Chapman L, Finucane A, Mason S. Technology in Palliative Care (TIP): the identification of digital priorities for palliative care research using a modified Delphi method. Medrxiv 2021. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.24.21259307

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How can technology be used to support communication in palliative care beyond the COVID19 pandemic?

Can we use technology better to support communication in palliative care?

  • We are looking for palliative care healthcare professionals to share their experience of using technology to communicate during the COVID19 pandemic.
  • The study is funded by Marie Curie is led by Sarah Stanley (research nurse at Marie Curie Liverpool Hospice). The study has ethical approval and is sponsored by Lancaster University.
  • We are seeking the opinions of Palliative Care healthcare professionals who have worked in the UK during the COVID19 pandemic. 
  • This a short electronic survey (takes roughly 10 -15 minutes to complete) can be completed from a smartphone, laptop or desktop computer.
  • We will identify how technology have been used in palliative care, been used to support communication during the COVID19 pandemic. 
  • We will use the outcomes of this work to inform policy, to identify how technologies can be used to improve palliative access beyond the COVID19 pandemic.

  All the participant information, consent form and survey can be assessed from the link below.

Click here to access the survey

health technology design, vector illustration eps10 graphic


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Investigation and management of iron deficiency anaemia in a specialist palliative care setting and the role of intravenous iron: a descriptive analysis of hospice data

Anaemia is common in hospice populations and associated with significant symptom burden. Guidelines recommend investigating for and treating iron deficiency (ID), but there is little evidence of this practice in palliative care populations. Our paper (published in AMRC Open Research) describes the results of investigations for and subsequent management of ID in Marie Curie Hospice Liverpool.

Our data demonstrates that iron deficiency is common and can be safely treated with intravenous iron replacement, within current guidelines, in a hospice setting. Further research should define the optimum use of this approach in palliative care patients.

More information can be found here:

Steele T, Bonwick H, Nwosu AC and Chapman L. Investigation and management of iron deficiency anaemia in a specialist palliative care setting and the role of intravenous iron: a descriptive analysis of hospice data [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. AMRC Open Res 2021, 3:6 (https://doi.org/10.12688/amrcopenres.12963.1)

Medical photo created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com


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Evaluating the use of video communication technology in a hospital specialist palliative care team during the COVID-19 pandemic

Healthcare professionals’ use of video communication technology has increased during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, due to infection control restrictions. Currently there is little published data about the experiences of specialist palliative care teams who are using technology to communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this evaluation (published in AMRC Open Research) was to describe the experience of a UK based hospital specialist palliative care team, who were using video communication technology to support care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video communication technology has the potential to improve specialist palliative care delivery; however, it is essential that healthcare organisations address the existing barriers to using this technology, to ensure that these systems work meaningfully to improve palliative care for those who are most vulnerable beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information can be found here:

Crosby B, Hanchanale S, Stanley S and Nwosu AC. Evaluating the use of video communication technology in a hospital specialist palliative care team during the COVID-19 pandemic [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. AMRC Open Res 2021, 3:5 (https://doi.org/10.12688/amrcopenres.12969.1)

Abstract vector created by vectorjuice – www.freepik.com


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Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) deactivation in palliative care – a case involving best interest decisions for someone lacking capacity at the end of life

The use of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD) has increased due to benefits of preventing death from cardiac arrhythmia. However, the increasing use of ICDs has created new challenges for how to proactively manage deactivation of these devices in people who are dying, especially for those who lack capacity to make decisions about their care. The aim of this case report is to discuss the challenges of planning for deactivation of an ICD for a patient who lacked capacity at the end of life.


In this case report (published on AMRC Open Research) we describe the challenges of managing ICD deactivation in a dying patient with fluctuating capacity who had previously expressed a wish for the ICD to remain active. Although it is preferable to use advance care planning (ACP), to provide care in-line with patient-identified care preferences, we demonstrate how a best interest process can be used to make decisions about ICD deactivation at the end of life.

More information can be found in our case report here:

https://amrcopenresearch.org/articles/3-4


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The use of advance consent to enable hydration assessments, for research, at the end of life

As the need for palliative care increases, it is essential for research opportunities to be offered to patients with palliative care needs to ensure patients can receive evidence-based treatments and services to improve care. Although it is recognised that palliative, and in particular end of life, research can be both methodically and ethically challenging it is important to note that palliative patients are keen to be involved with research.
Over the past three years, patients in Marie Curie Hospice Liverpool have been recruited to a research study evaluating hydration, where advance consent methodology is used to facilitate participation at the end of life. In this study, participants provided ‘advanced consent’ to receive research assessments, in anticipation of the deterioration of their health and loss of the ability to provide consent to ongoing research participation. During this process, recruiting participants will nominate a consultee (who can be any family member, friend or healthcare professional), who is contacted by the researcher prior to completion of research assessments. Participants will generally choose a caregiver or friend to act as a personal consultee; however, there may be some instances where a healthcare professional is chosen.
In this, we share our experiences using advanced consent methodology and a healthcare professional acting as a consultee, to facilitate research assessments in a patient who was lacking capacity at the end of life.

More information can be found in our case report here:

Stanley S and Nwosu AC. Case Report: The use of advanced consent methodology and healthcare professional consultee to facilitate research participation in dying patients [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. AMRC Open Res 2021, 3:3 (https://doi.org/10.12688/amrcopenres.12961.1)


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Improving Palliative Care Through Digital Health Technology

I’m delighted to write a geust blog for BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care about how palliative care care be improved through use of digital health technology. I also reflect on how this presents an opportunity to learn from the COVID19 pandemic. Specifically, I reference an article by Clabburn and colleagues, which describes the novel use of ‘Ivy Street’, a Virtual Learning Environment to support palliative and end of life care education. 

Read my guest blog here:


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Robotic technology for palliative and supportive care: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

How could robots help us at the end of life? Check out this open access article I published with some great co-authors.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0269216319857628

What is already known about the topic?

  • Medical robots have mainly been used to support surgical procedures and for a variety of assistive uses in dementia and elderly care.
  • There has been limited debate about the potential opportunities and risks of robotics in other areas of palliative, supportive and end-of-life care.

What this paper adds?

  • The potential opportunities of robotics in palliative, supportive and end-of-life care include a number of assistive, therapeutic, social and educational uses.
  • There is concern that robots will exacerbate healthcare inequalities, disrupt the workforce and reduce face-to-face human interaction.

Implications for practice, theory or policy

  • Future work should evaluate the health-related, economic, societal and ethical implications of using robotic technology in palliative, supportive and end-of-life care.
  • There is a need for collaborative research to establish use-cases and policy recommendations to guide the appropriate use of robots for people with serious illness.

CLICK below to access the artilce

Nwosu AC, Sturgeon B, McGlinchey T, Goodwin CDG, Behera A, Mason S, Stanley S, Payne TR. Robotic technology for palliative and supportive care: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Palliative Medicine 2019.


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Big Data and Palliative Care

 

I was delighted that our letter about Big Data and palliative medicine was published in ‘Palliative Medicine’. This was in response to an editorial by Peter Tanuesputro which described how Big Data analysis of linked data has the potential to support care by indentifying patient needs. Our letter describes five challenges which need to be considered in order to make meaningful use of Big Data analysis in palliative care.

The letter is freely available in full from the link below.

Nwosu AC, Collins B, Mason S. Big Data analysis to improve care for people living with serious illness: the potential to use new emerging technology in palliative care. Palliative Medicine 2017; doi:10.1177/0269216317726250.


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Learning through listening: The development of the ‘SAGE Palliative Medicine & Chronic Care’ podcast

I was delighted to be invited to write a guest blog for the European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC) website, about my role in developing podcasts for ‘Palliative Medicine’ in my role Digital Editor for the journal.

The full blog post can be found here:

Learning through listening EAPC guest blog

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How to access the ‘SAGE Palliative Medicine & Chronic Care’ podcasts

  • Subscribe to the podcasts from iTunes here.