Developing neuropalliative care for sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Prion. 2022 Dec;16(1):23-39. doi: 10.1080/19336896.2022.2043077.
We aimed to identify targets for neuropalliative care interventions in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease by examining characteristics of patients and sources of distress and support among former caregivers. We identified caregivers of decedents with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from the University of California San Francisco Rapidly Progressive Dementia research database. We purposively recruited 12 caregivers for in-depth interviews and extracted associated patient data. We analysed interviews using the constant comparison method and chart data using descriptive statistics. Patients had a median age of 70 (range: 60-86) years and disease duration of 14.5 months (range 4-41 months). Caregivers were interviewed a median of 22 (range 11-39) months after patient death and had a median age of 59 (range 45-73) years. Three major sources of distress included (1) the unique nature of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; (2) clinical care issues such as difficult diagnostic process, lack of expertise in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, gaps in clinical systems, and difficulties with end-of-life care; and (3) caregiving issues, including escalating responsibilities, intensifying stress, declining caregiver well-being, and care needs surpassing resources. Two sources of support were (1) clinical care, including guidance from providers about what to expect and supportive relationships; and (2) caregiving supports, including connection to persons with experience managing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, instrumental support, and social/emotional support. The challenges and supports described by caregivers align with neuropalliative approaches and can be used to develop interventions to address needs of persons with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and their caregivers.