Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Patients With Hematologic Malignancies.
Hematologic malignancies are a heterogeneous group of diseases with unique illness trajectories, treatment paradigms, and potential for curability, which affect patients' palliative and end-of-life care needs. Patients with hematologic malignancies endure immense physical and psychological symptoms because of both their illness and often intensive treatments that result in significant toxicities and adverse effects. Compared with patients with solid tumors, those with hematologic malignancies also experience high rates of hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions, and in-hospital deaths and low rates of referral to hospice as well as shorter hospice length of stay. In addition, patients with hematologic malignancies harbor substantial misperceptions about treatment risks and benefits and frequently overestimate their prognosis. Even survivors of hematologic malignancies struggle with late effects, post-treatment complications, and post-traumatic stress symptoms that can significantly diminish their quality of life. Despite these substantial unmet needs, specialty palliative care services are infrequently consulted for the care of patients with hematologic malignancies. Several illness-specific, cultural, and system-based barriers to palliative care integration and optimal end-of-life care exist in this population. However, recent evidence has demonstrated the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of integrating palliative care to improve the quality of life and care of patients with hematologic malignancies and their caregivers. More research is needed to develop and test population-specific palliative and supportive care interventions to ensure generalizability and to define a sustainable clinical delivery model. Future work also should focus on identifying moderators and mediators of the effect of integrated palliative care models on patient-reported outcomes and on developing less resource-intensive integrated care models to address the diverse needs of this population.
El-Jawahri, A; Nelson, AM; Gray, TF; Lee, SJ; LeBlanc, TW
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