The Surprise Question and Identification of Palliative Care Needs among Hospitalized Patients with Advanced Hematologic or Solid Malignancies.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Little is known about quality of life (QOL), depression, and end-of-life (EOL) outcomes among hospitalized patients with advanced cancer. OBJECTIVE: To assess whether the surprise question identifies inpatients with advanced cancer likely to have unmet palliative care needs. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study and long-term follow-up. SETTING/SUBJECTS: From 2008 to 2010, we enrolled 150 inpatients at Duke University with stage III/IV solid tumors or lymphoma/acute leukemia and whose physician would not be surprised if they died in less than one year. MEASUREMENTS: We assessed QOL (FACT-G), mood (brief CES-D), and EOL outcomes. RESULTS: Mean FACT-G score was quite low (66.9; SD 11). Forty-five patients (30%) had a brief CES-D score of ≥4 indicating a high likelihood of depression. In multivariate analyses, better QOL was associated with less depression (OR 0.91, p < 0.0001), controlling for tumor type, education, and spiritual well-being. Physicians correctly estimated death within one year in 101 (69%) cases, yet only 37 patients (25%) used hospice, and 4 (2.7%) received a palliative care consult; 89 (60.5%) had a do-not-resuscitate order, and 63 (43%) died in the hospital. CONCLUSIONS: The surprise question identifies inpatients with advanced solid or hematologic cancers having poor QOL and frequent depressive symptoms. Although physicians expected death within a year, EOL quality outcomes were poor. Hospitalized patients with advanced cancer may benefit from palliative care interventions to improve mood, QOL, and EOL care, and the surprise question is a practical method to identify those with unmet needs.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hudson, KE; Wolf, SP; Samsa, GP; Kamal, AH; Abernethy, AP; LeBlanc, TW

Published Date

  • June 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 21 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 789 - 795

PubMed ID

  • 29420142

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6037191

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1557-7740

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1089/jpm.2017.0509


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States