Palliative Care Consult Improves QoL of Cancer Patients

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Improvement in quality of life; trend toward longer median estimate of survival
Improvement in quality of life; trend toward longer median estimate of survival

HealthDay News — For patients with advanced cancer, emergency department-initiated palliative care consultation is associated with improved quality of life, according to a study published online January 14 in JAMA Oncology.

Corita R. Grudzen, MD, from the New York University School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues compared quality of life, depression, health care utilization, and survival in patients with advanced cancer. A total of 136 patients who presented to the emergency department were enrolled and randomized to emergency department-initiated palliative care (69 patients) or usual care (67 patients).

The researchers found that patients randomized to palliative care had significantly higher quality of life, as measured by a change in Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General Measure score from enrollment to 12 weeks (mean increase of 5.91 points, versus 1.08 in controls; P = 0.03). Compared with the control group, median estimates of survival were longer in the intervention group, although the difference was not statistically significant (289 versus 132 days; P = 0.20). No significant differences were seen in depression, intensive care unit admission, and discharge to hospice.

"Emergency department-initiated palliative care consultation in advanced cancer improves quality of life in patients with advanced cancer and does not seem to shorten survival; the impact on health care utilization and depression is less clear and warrants further study," the authors write.

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