Outcomes of Embedded Palliative Care Outpatients Initial Consults on Timing of Palliative Care Access, Symptoms, and End-of-Life Quality Care Indicators among Advanced Nonsmall Cell Lung Cancer Patients

Sriram Yennurajalingam, Bernard Prado, Zhanni Lu, Syed Naqvi, Janet L Williams, Taekyu Lim, Eduardo Bruera
Journal of Palliative Medicine 2018 August 1

OBJECTIVE: To determine the timing of palliative care (PC) access, symptoms, and end-of-life (EOL) quality care outcomes of patients with advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) referred to outpatients embedded palliative care consults (EPC) compared with those of outpatients palliative care consults (OPC).

BACKGROUND: There are no studies comparing the outcomes of outpatients EPC consults with those of stand-alone OPC consults among patients with NSCLC.

DESIGN: The design consists of a random sample of OPC consults (January 2009 to July 2012) and EPC consults (August 2012 to June 2013) at MD Anderson Cancer Center. After the initial consult, all EPC follow-ups occurred at the OPC clinic.

MEASUREMENTS: Patients' characteristics, symptoms (assessed by Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale), time from referral to first consult, overall survival from consult to death, and EOL quality care outcomes (ICU admissions, emergency center visits, hospitalizations within last 30 days, cancer treatments within last 14 days, hospice referrals, advanced care planning [ACP] discussions, and completion of advanced directives) were reviewed.

RESULTS: A total of 340 consults were included (EPC consults = 147). Baseline Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group status (2.2 vs. 1.9, p < 0.001) and median pain (6 vs. 5, p = 0.038) were higher among EPC consults. In EPC consults, time from referral to first consult was shorter (median: 0 day vs. 7 days, p < 0.001), and ACP discussions occurred more frequently (90% vs. 77%, p = 0.026), and earlier (median: 2 month vs. 1 month before death, p = 0.018). No other significant differences in symptoms, EOL outcomes, or survival were observed.

CONCLUSIONS: EPC consults plus OPC follow-ups accessed PC earlier, and had more frequent and earlier ACP discussions as compared with OPC consults. Embedded palliative cancer care might not be the ideal model for an initial PC consultation. Further research is necessary.


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