Komal Patel Murali


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Komal Patel Murali


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Komal Patel Murali's additional information

Komal Patel Murali, PhD, RN, ACNP-BC is an assistant professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, interested in palliative and end-of-life care for seriously ill persons living with dementia. She is currently funded by a NIA IMPACT Collaboratory Career Development Award. In this study, Murali is exploring barriers to hospice care and developing a care management intervention to improve transitions to hospice for diverse persons living with dementia. Informed by prior nursing experiences in neuroscience and medical critical care, she is also passionate about the integration of palliative and end-of-life care in the ICU setting. Prior to joining NYU Meyers, Murali was a postdoctoral fellow in the Comparative and Cost-Effectiveness Research Training Program for Nurse Scientists (T32NR0114205, 2020-2022) at Columbia Nursing and a predoctoral scholar with the NYU Clinical and Translational Science Institute (UL1TR001445/TL1TR001447, 2018-2020).

PhD – New York University (2020)
MSN – University of Pennsylvania (2011)
BSN – University of Pennsylvania (2008)

American Association of Critical Care Nurses
American Geriatrics Society
Eastern Nursing Research Society
Gerontological Society of America
Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association
Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society

Faculty Honors Awards

Chair, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (2023)
NYU Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Research Education Component Scholar (2023)
Research Scholar, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (2023)
Emerging Leaders Award, Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation (2022)
Distinguished PhD Student Award, NYU Meyers (2020)
Norman Volk Doctoral Scholarship, NYU Meyers (2018)
Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar, Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence (2018)
President’s Service Award, New York University (2018)
Sigma Theta Tau Inductee, University of Pennsylvania (2008)
Mary D. Naylor Graduation Research Award, University of Pennsylvania (2008)


Complex Care Needs at the End of Life for Seriously Ill Adults With Multiple Chronic Conditions

Murali, K. P., Merriman, J. D., Yu, G., Vorderstrasse, A., Kelley, A. S., & Brody, A. A. (2023). Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 25(3), 146-155. 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000946
Understanding the complex care needs of seriously ill adults with multiple chronic conditions with and without cancer is critical for the delivery of high-quality serious illness and palliative care at the end of life. The objective of this secondary data analysis of a multisite randomized clinical trial in palliative care was to elucidate the clinical profile and complex care needs of seriously ill adults with multiple chronic conditions and to highlight key differences among those with and without cancer at the end of life. Of the 213 (74.2%) older adults who met criteria for multiple chronic conditions (eg, 2 or more chronic conditions requiring regular care with limitations of daily living), 49% had a diagnosis of cancer. Hospice enrollment was operationalized as an indicator for severity of illness and allowed for the capture of complex care needs of those deemed to be nearing the end of life. Individuals with cancer had complex symptomatology with a higher prevalence of nausea, drowsiness, and poor appetite and end of life and lower hospice enrollment. Individuals with multiple chronic conditions without cancer had lower functional status, greater number of medications, and higher hospice enrollment. The care of seriously ill older adults with multiple chronic conditions requires tailored approaches to improve outcomes and quality of care across health care settings, particularly at the end of life.

Multiple Chronic Conditions among Seriously Ill Adults Receiving Palliative Care

Murali, K. P., Yu, G., Merriman, J. D., Vorderstrasse, A., Kelley, A. S., & Brody, A. A. (2023). Western Journal of Nursing Research, 45(1), 14-24. 10.1177/01939459211041174
The objective of this study was to characterize multiple chronic conditions (MCCs) among seriously ill adults receiving palliative care at the end of life. A latent class analysis was conducted to identify latent subgroups of seriously ill older adults based on a baseline Charlson comorbidity index (CCI) measurement, a measure of comorbidity burden, and mortality risk. The three latent subgroups were: (1) low to moderate CCI with MCC, (2) high CCI with MCC, and (3) high CCI and metastatic cancer. The “low to moderate CCI and MCC” subgroup included older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, dementia, diabetes, and lymphoma. A “high CCI and MCC” subgroup included individuals with severe illness including liver or renal disease among other MCCs. A “high CCI and metastatic cancer” included all participants with metastatic cancer. This study sheds light on the MCC profile of seriously ill adults receiving palliative care.

Place of Death from Cancer in US States with vs Without Palliative Care Laws

Quan Vega, M. L., Chihuri, S. T., Lackraj, D., Murali, K. P., Li, G., & Hua, M. (2023). JAMA Network Open, 6(6). 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.17247
Importance: In the US, improving end-of-life care has become increasingly urgent. Some states have enacted legislation intended to facilitate palliative care delivery for seriously ill patients, but it is unknown whether these laws have any measurable consequences for patient outcomes. Objective: To determine whether US state palliative care legislation is associated with place of death from cancer. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study with a difference-in-differences analysis used information about state legislation combined with death certificate data for 50 US states (from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2017) for all decedents who had any type of cancer listed as the underlying cause of death. Data analysis for this study occurred between September 1, 2021, and August 31, 2022. Exposures: Presence of a nonprescriptive (relating to palliative and end-of-life care without prescribing particular clinician actions) or prescriptive (requiring clinicians to offer patients information about care options) palliative care law in the state-year where death occurred. Main Outcomes and Measures: Multilevel relative risk regression with state modeled as a random effect was used to estimate the likelihood of dying at home or hospice for decedents dying in state-years with a palliative care law compared with decedents dying in state-years without such laws. Results: This study included 7547907 individuals with cancer as the underlying cause of death. Their mean (SD) age was 71 (14) years, and 3609146 were women (47.8%). In terms of race and ethnicity, the majority of decedents were White (85.6%) and non-Hispanic (94.1%). During the study period, 553 state-years (85.1%) had no palliative care law, 60 state-years (9.2%) had a nonprescriptive palliative care law, and 37 state-years (5.7%) had a prescriptive palliative care law. A total of 3780918 individuals (50.1%) died at home or in hospice. Most decedents (70.8%) died in state-years without a palliative care law, while 15.7% died in state-years with a nonprescriptive law and 13.5% died in state-years with a prescriptive law. Compared with state-years without a palliative care law, the likelihood of dying at home or in hospice was 12% higher for decedents in state-years with a nonprescriptive palliative care law (relative risk, 1.12 [95% CI 1.08-1.16]) and 18% higher for decedents in state-years with a prescriptive palliative care law (relative risk, 1.18 [95% CI, 1.11-1.26]). Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study of decedents from cancer, state palliative care laws were associated with an increased likelihood of dying at home or in hospice. Passage of state palliative care legislation may be an effective policy intervention to increase the number of seriously ill patients who experience their death in such locations.

Clinicians' views on the use of triggers for specialist palliative care in the ICU: A qualitative secondary analysis

Murali, K. P., Fonseca, L. D., Blinderman, C. D., White, D. B., & Hua, M. (2022). Journal of Critical Care, 71. 10.1016/j.jcrc.2022.154054
Purpose: To understand clinicians' views regarding use of clinical criteria, or triggers, for specialist palliative care consultation in the ICU. Materials and methods: Secondary analysis of a qualitative study that explored factors associated with adoption of specialist palliative care in the ICU. Semi-structured interviews with 36 ICU and palliative care clinicians included questions related to triggers for specialist palliative care. We performed a thematic analysis to identify participants' views on use of triggers, including appropriateness of cases for specialists and issues surrounding trigger implementation. Results: We identified five major themes: 1) Appropriate triggers for specialist palliative care, 2) Issues leading to clinician ambivalence for triggers, 3) Prospective buy-in of stakeholders, 4) Workflow considerations in deploying a trigger system, and 5) Role of ICU clinicians in approving specialist palliative care consults. Appropriate triggers included end-of-life care, chronic critical illness, frequent ICU admissions, and patient/family support. Most clinicians had concerns about “trigger overload” and ICU clinicians wanted to be broadly involved in implementation efforts. Conclusions: ICU and palliative care clinicians identified important issues to consider when implementing triggers for specialist palliative care consultation. Future research is needed to longitudinally examine the most appropriate triggers and best practices for trigger implementation.

Interpersonal Conflict between Clinicians in the Delivery of Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Critically Ill Patients: A Secondary Qualitative Analysis

Tong, W., Murali, K. P., Fonseca, L. D., Blinderman, C. D., Shelton, R. C., & Hua, M. (2022). Journal of Palliative Medicine, 25(10), 1501-1509. 10.1089/jpm.2021.0631
Background: Conflict between clinicians is prevalent within intensive care units (ICUs) and may hinder optimal delivery of care. However, little is known about the sources of interpersonal conflict and how it manifests within the context of palliative and end-of-life care delivery in ICUs. Objective: To characterize interpersonal conflict in the delivery of palliative care within ICUs. Design: Secondary thematic analysis using a deductive-inductive approach. We analyzed existing qualitative data that conducted semistructured interviews to examine factors associated with variable adoption of specialty palliative care in ICUs. Settings/Subjects: In the parent study, 36 participants were recruited from two urban academic medical centers in the United States, including ICU attendings (n = 17), ICU nurses (n = 11), ICU social workers (n = 1), and palliative care providers (n = 7). Measurements: Coders applied an existing framework of interpersonal conflict to guide initial coding and analysis, combined with a flexible inductive approach allowing new codes to emerge. Results: We characterized three properties of interpersonal conflict: disagreement, interference, and negative emotion. In the context of delivering palliative and end-of-life care for critically ill patients, "disagreement" centered around whether patients were appropriate for palliative care, which care plans should be prioritized, and how care should be delivered. "Interference" involved preventing palliative care consultation or goals-of-care discussions and hindering patient care. "Negative emotion" included occurrences of silencing or scolding, rudeness, anger, regret, ethical conflict, and grief. Conclusions: Our findings provide an in-depth understanding of interpersonal conflict within palliative and end-of-life care for critically ill patients. Further study is needed to understand how to prevent and resolve such conflicts.

Measuring Palliative Care-Related Knowledge, Attitudes, and Confidence in Home Health Care Clinicians, Patients, and Caregivers: A Systematic Review

Murali, K. P., Kang, J. A., Bronstein, D., McDonald, M. V., King, L., Chastain, A. M., & Shang, J. (2022). Journal of Palliative Medicine, 25(10), 1579-1598. 10.1089/jpm.2021.0580
Background: Integrating palliative care services in the home health care (HHC) setting is an important strategy to provide care for seriously ill adults and improve symptom burden, quality of life, and caregiver burden. Routine palliative care in HHC is only possible if clinicians who provide this care are prepared and patients and caregivers are well equipped with the knowledge to receive this care. A key first step in integrating palliative care services within HHC is to measure preparedness of clinicians and readiness of patients and caregivers to receive it. Objective: The objective of this systematic review was to review existing literature related to the measurement of palliative care-related knowledge, attitudes, and confidence among HHC clinicians, patients, and caregivers. Methods: We searched PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science, and Cochrane for relevant articles between 2000 and 2021. Articles were included in the final analysis if they (1) reported specifically on palliative care knowledge, attitudes, or confidence, (2) presented measurement tools, instruments, scales, or questionnaires, (3) were conducted in the HHC setting, (4) and included HHC clinicians, patients, or caregivers. Results: Seventeen articles were included. While knowledge, attitudes, and confidence have been studied in HHC clinicians, patients, and caregivers, results varied significantly across countries and health care systems. No study captured knowledge, attitudes, and confidence of the full HHC workforce; notably, home health aides were not included in the studies. Conclusion: Existing instruments did not comprehensively contain elements of the eight domains of palliative care outlined by the National Consensus Project (NCP) for Quality Palliative Care. A comprehensive psychometrically tested instrument to measure palliative care-related knowledge, attitudes, and confidence in the HHC setting is needed.

What End-of-Life Communication in ICUs Around the World Teaches Us About Shared Decision-Making

Murali, K. P., & Hua, M. (2022). Chest, 162(5), 949-950. 10.1016/j.chest.2022.07.001

Association of Infection-Related Hospitalization with Cognitive Impairment among Nursing Home Residents

Gracner, T., Agarwal, M., Murali, K. P., Stone, P. W., Larson, E. L., Furuya, E. Y., Harrison, J. M., & Dick, A. W. (2021). JAMA Network Open, 4(4). 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.7528
Importance: Hospitalizations for infections among nursing home (NH) residents remain common despite national initiatives to reduce them. Cognitive impairment, which markedly affects quality of life and caregiving needs, has been associated with hospitalizations, but the association between infection-related hospitalizations and long-term cognitive function among NH residents is unknown. Objective: To examine whether there are changes in cognitive function before vs after infection-related hospitalizations among NH residents. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study used data from the Minimum Data Set 3.0 linked to Medicare hospitalization data from 2011 to 2017 for US nursing home residents aged 65 years or older who had experienced an infection-related hospitalization and had at least 2 quarterly Minimum Data Set assessments before and 4 or more after the infection-related hospitalization. Analyses were performed from September 1, 2019, to December 21, 2020. Exposure: Infection-related hospitalization lasting 1 to 14 days. Main Outcomes and Measures: Using an event study approach, associations between infection-related hospitalizations and quarterly changes in cognitive function among NH residents were examined overall and by sex, age, Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRD) diagnosis, and sepsis vs other infection-related diagnoses. Resident-level cognitive function was measured using the Cognitive Function Scale (CFS), with scores ranging from 1 (intact) to 4 (severe cognitive impairment). Results: Of the sample of 20698 NH residents, 71.0% were women and 82.6% were non-Hispanic White individuals; the mean (SD) age at the time of transfer to the hospital was 82 (8.5) years. The mean CFS score was 2.17, and the prevalence of severe cognitive impairment (CFS score, 4) was 9.0%. During the first quarter after an infection-related hospitalization, residents experienced a mean increase of 0.06 points in CFS score (95% CI, 0.05-0.07 points; P <.001), or 3%. The increase in scores was greatest among residents aged 85 years or older vs younger residents by approximately 0.022 CFS points (95% CI, 0.004-0.040 points; P <.05). The prevalence of severe cognitive impairment increased by 1.6 percentage points (95% CI, 1.2-2.0 percentage points; P <.001), or 18%; the increases were observed among individuals with ADRD but not among those without it. After an infection-related hospitalization, cognition among residents who had experienced sepsis declined more than for residents who had not by about 0.02 CFS points (95% CI, 0.00-0.04 points; P <.05). All observed differences persisted without an accelerated rate of decline for at least 6 quarters after infection-related hospitalization. No differences were observed by sex. Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, infection-related hospitalization was associated with immediate and persistent cognitive decline among nursing home residents, with the largest increase in CFS scores among older residents, those with ADRD, and those who had experienced sepsis. Identification of NH residents at risk of worsened cognition after an infection-related hospitalization may help to ensure that their care needs are addressed to prevent further cognitive decline.

Implementation of Specialist Palliative Care and Outcomes for Hospitalized Patients with Dementia

Lackraj, D., Kavalieratos, D., Murali, K. P., Lu, Y., & Hua, M. (2021). Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 69(5), 1199-1207. 10.1111/jgs.17032
Background: In patients with serious illness, use of specialist palliative care may result in improved quality of life, patient and caregiver satisfaction and advance care planning, as well as lower health care utilization. However, evidence of efficacy is limited for patients with dementia, particularly in the setting of an acute hospitalization. Objective: To determine whether implementation of hospital-based specialist palliative care was associated with differences in treatment intensity outcomes for hospitalized patients with dementia. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting: Fifty-one hospitals in New York State that either did or did not implement a palliative care program between 2008 and 2014. Hospitals that consistently had a palliative care program during the study period were excluded. Participants: Hospitalized patients with dementia. Measurements: The primary outcome of this study was discharge to hospice from an acute hospitalization. Secondary outcomes included hospital length of stay, use of mechanical ventilation and dialysis, and days in intensive care. Difference-in-difference analyses were performed using multilevel regression to assess the association between implementing a palliative care program and outcomes, while adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics and time trends. Results: During the study period, 82,118 patients with dementia (mean (SD) age, 83.04 (10.04), 51,170 (62.21%) female) underwent an acute hospitalization, of which 41,227 (50.27%) received care in hospitals that implemented a palliative care program. In comparison to patients who received care in hospitals without palliative care, patients with dementia who received care in hospitals after the implementation of palliative care were more 35% likely to be discharged to hospice (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.35 (1.19–1.51), P <.001). No meaningful differences in secondary outcomes were observed. Conclusion: Implementation of a specialist palliative care program was associated with an increase in discharge to hospice following acute hospitalization in patients with dementia.

Latent Class Analysis of Symptom Burden among Seriously Ill Adults at the End of Life

Murali, K. P., Yu, G., Merriman, J. D., Vorderstrasse, A., Kelley, A. S., & Brody, A. A. (2021). Nursing Research, 70(6), 443-454. 10.1097/NNR.0000000000000549
Background: Serious illness is characterized by high symptom burden that negatively affects quality of life (QOL). Although palliative care research has highlighted symptom burden in seriously ill adults with cancer, symptom burden among those with noncancer serious illness and multiple chronic conditions has been understudied. Latent class analysis is a statistical method that can be used to better understand the relationship between severity of symptom burden and covariates, such as the presence of multiple chronic conditions. Although latent class analysis has been used to highlight subgroups of seriously ill adults with cancer based on symptom clusters, none have incorporated multiple chronic conditions. Objectives: The objectives of this study were to (a) describe the demographic and baseline characteristics of seriously ill adults at the end of life in a palliative care cohort, (b) identify latent subgroups of seriously ill individuals based on severity of symptom burden, and (c) examine variables associated with latent subgroup membership, such as QOL, functional status, and the presence of multiple chronic conditions. Methods: A secondary data analysis of a palliative care clinical trial was conducted. The latent class analysis was based on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System, which measures nine symptoms on a scale of 0–10 (e.g., pain, fatigue, nausea, depression, anxiousness, drowsiness, appetite, well-being, and shortness of breath). Clinically significant cut-points for symptom severity were used to categorize each symptom item in addition to a categorized total score. Results: Three latent subgroups were identified (e.g., low, moderate, and high symptom burden). Lower overall QOL was associated with membership in the moderate and high symptom burden subgroups. Multiple chronic conditions were associated with statistically significant membership in the high symptom burden latent subgroup. Older adults between 65 and 74 years had a lower likelihood of moderate or high symptom burden subgroup membership compared to the low symptom burden class. Discussion: Lower QOL was associated with high symptom burden. Multiple chronic conditions were associated with high symptom burden, which underlines the clinical complexity of serious illness. Palliative care at the end of life for seriously ill adults with high symptom burden must account for the presence of multiple chronic conditions.