Early Palliative Care Services and End-of-Life Care in Medicare Beneficiaries with Hematologic Malignancies: A Population-Based Retrospective Cohort Study.
Patients with hematologic malignancies (HM) often receive aggressive care at the end of life (EOL). Early palliative care (PC) has been shown to improve EOL care outcomes, but its benefits are less established in HM than in solid tumors.
We sought to describe the use of billed PC services among Medicare beneficiaries with HM. We hypothesized that receipt of early PC services (rendered >30 days before death) may be associated with less aggressive EOL care.
Retrospective cohort analysis
Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare registry, we studied patients with leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome, or myeloproliferative neoplasm who died between 2001 and 2015.
We described trends in the use of PC services and evaluated the association between early PC services and metrics of EOL care aggressiveness.
Among 139,191 decedents, the proportion receiving PC services increased from 0.4% in 2001 to 13.3% in 2015. Median time from first encounter to death was 10 days and 84.3% of encounters occurred during hospitalizations. In patients who survived >30 days from diagnosis (N = 120,741), the use of early PC services was more frequent in acute leukemia, women, and black patients, among other characteristics. Early PC services were associated with increased hospice use and decreased health care utilization at the EOL.
Among patients with HM, there was an upward trend in PC services, and early PC services were associated with less aggressive EOL care. Our results support the need for prospective trials of early PC in HM.
Rao, VB; Belanger, E; Egan, PC; LeBlanc, TW; Olszewski, AJ
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