Factors associated with the aggressiveness of care at the end of life for patients with cancer dying in hospital: a nationwide retrospective cohort study in mainland Portugal

Diogo Martins-Branco, Silvia Lopes, Rita Canario, Joao Freire, Madalena Feio, Jose Ferraz-Goncalves, Gabriela Sousa, Nuno Lunet, Barbara Gomes

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Abstract

Introduction There is growing concern about the aggressiveness of cancer care at the end of life (ACCEoL), defined as overly aggressive treatments that compromise the quality of life at its end. Recognising the most affected patients is a cornerstone to improve oncology care. Our aim is to identify factors associated with ACCEoL for patients with cancer dying in hospitals. Methods All adult patients with cancer who died in public hospitals in mainland Portugal (January 2010 to December 2015), identified from the hospital morbidity database. This database provided individual clinical and demographic data. We obtained hospital and region-level variables from a survey and National Statistics. The primary outcome is a composite ACCEoL measure of 16 indicators. We used multilevel random effects logistic regression modelling (p<0·05). Results We included 92 155 patients: median age 73 years; 62% male; 53% with metastatic disease. ACCEoL prevalence was 71% (95% CI 70% to 71%). The most prevalent indicators were >14 days in the hospital (43%, 42-43) and surgery (28%, 28-28) in the last 30 days. Older age (p<0·001), breast cancer (OR 0·83; 95% CI 0·76 to 0·91), and metastatic disease (0·54; 95% CI 0·50 to 0·58) were negatively associated with ACCEoL. In contrast, higher Deyo-Charlson Comorbidity Index (p<0·001), gastrointestinal and haematological malignancies (p<0·001), and death at cancer centre (1·31; 95% CI 1·01 to 1·72) or hospital with medical oncology department (1·29; 95% CI 1·02 to 1·63) were positively associated with ACCEoL. There was no association between hospital palliative care services at the hospital of death and ACCEoL. Conclusion Clinical factors related to a better understanding of disease course are associated with ACCEoL reduction. Patients with more comorbidities and gastrointestinal malignancies might represent groups with complex needs, and haematological patients may be at increased risk because of unpredictable prognosis. Improvement of hospital palliative care services could help reduce ACCEoL, particularly in cancer centres and hospitals with medical oncology department, as those services are usually under-resourced, thus reaching few.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000953
JournalESMO Open
Volume5
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • hospital mortality
  • neoplasms
  • palliative care
  • risk factors
  • terminal care

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