Currently Viewing:
The American Journal of Managed Care December 2014
Currently Reading
Quality of End-of-Life Care for Cancer Patients: Does Home Hospice Care Matter?
Netta Bentur, PhD; Shirli Resnizky, MA; Ran Balicer, MD; and Tsofia Eilat-Tsanani, MD
Paying for Telemedicine
Robert S. Rudin, PhD; David Auerbach, PhD; Mikhail Zaydman, BS; and Ateev Mehrotra, MD
Validating Electronic Cancer Quality Measures at Veterans Health Administration
Jeremy B. Shelton, MD, MSHS; Ted A. Skolarus, MD, MPH; Diana Ordin, MD, MPH; Jennifer Malin, MD, PhD; AnnaLiza Antonio, MS; Joan Ryoo, MD, MSHS; and Christopher S. Saigal, MD
Did They Come to the Dance? Insurer Participation in Exchanges
Jean M. Abraham, PhD; Roger Feldman, PhD; and Kosali Simon, PhD
ACO Contracting With Private and Public Payers: A Baseline Comparative Analysis
Valerie A. Lewis, PhD; Carrie H. Colla, PhD; William L. Schpero, MPH; Stephen M. Shortell, PhD, MPH, MBA; and Elliott S. Fisher, MD, MPH
Reference-Based Pricing: An Evidence-Based Solution for Lab Services Shopping
L. Doug Melton, PhD, MPH; Kent Bradley, MD, MPH, MBA; Patricia Lin Fu, MPH; Raegan Armata, BS, MBA; and James B. Parr, BA
Addressing Cost Barriers to Medications: A Survey of Patients Requesting Financial Assistance
David Grande, MD, MPA; Margaret Lowenstein, MD, MPhil; Madeleine Tardif, BA; and Carolyn Cannuscio, ScD
Preconsultation Exchange in the United States: Use, Awareness, and Attitudes
Justin L. Sewell, MD, MPH; Katherine S. Telischak, MSc; Lukejohn W. Day, MD; Neil Kirschner, PhD; and Arlene Weissman, PhD
Medicare Star Excludes Diabetes Patients With Poor CVD Risk Factor Control
Julie Schmittdiel, PhD; Marsha Raebel, PharmD; Wendy Dyer, MS; John Steiner, MD, MPH; Glenn Goodrich, MS; Andy Karter, PhD; and Gregory Nichols, PhD
There's More Than One Way to Build a Medical Home
Manasi A. Tirodkar, PhD, MS; Suzanne Morton, MPH, MBA; Thomas Whiting, MPA; Patrick Monahan, MD; Elexis McBee, DO; Robert Saunders, PhD; and Sarah Hudson Scholle, DrPH, MPH
Improving Medication Understanding Among Latinos Through Illustrated Medication Lists
Arun Mohan, MD, MBA; M. Brian Riley, MA; Brian Schmotzer, MS; Dane R. Boyington, PhD; and Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc
Predicting Nursing Home Placement Among Home- and Community-Based Services Program Participants
Melissa A. Greiner, MS; Laura G. Qualls, MS; Isao Iwata, MD, PhD, EdM; Heidi K. White, MD; Sheila L. Molony, PhD, APRN, GNP-BC; M. Terry Sullivan, RN, MSW, MSN; Bonnie Burke, MS; Kevin A. Schulman, MD; and Soko Setoguchi, MD, DrPH

Quality of End-of-Life Care for Cancer Patients: Does Home Hospice Care Matter?

Netta Bentur, PhD; Shirli Resnizky, MA; Ran Balicer, MD; and Tsofia Eilat-Tsanani, MD
Palliative principles were applied to the care of more HH patients than non-HH patients, but no differences were found in their utilization of healthcare services.
Objectives
Since metastasized cancer patients receive many treatments and services, it is important to ascertain whether home hospice (HH) care makes a meaningful contribution to end-of-life quality for terminal patients. This study examines whether people who had died from metastasized cancer—both recipients of HH care and nonrecipients—were cared for according to palliative indicators and whether HH care made a difference.

Study Design
Three to 6 months after the deaths of 193 metastatic cancer patients, members of their families were interviewed face-to-face. Information on their loved ones’ utilization of healthcare services in the last 2 months of life was retrieved from computerized administrative files.

Results
The patients’ average age was 69.5 years (SD = 13.9), 56% were men, and 21% received HH care. More patients with HH care than without received opiate medication (92% vs 68%, respectively; P <.01), appropriate treatment for anxiety (57% vs 30%, respectively; P <.01), had advance directives, and received explanations about their rights. Only 5% of HH patients were treated with curative care in the last 2 month of life, compared with 40% of those without HH (P <.01). Of those who received curative care, more of them died at home (56% vs 26%, respectively; P <.01), and more died at the place of their choice (60% vs 30%, respectively; P <.01). No differences were found regarding healthcare service utilization.

Conclusions
The findings demonstrate the valuable contributions of HH and palliative care. Clinicians should consider referring cancer patients to palliative care services and establishing working relationships with HH and palliative care providers.

Am J Manag Care. 2014;20(12):988-992
  • Persons with metastatic cancer receive multiple services concomitantly during their last 6 months of life. Only a minority of them receive palliative and HH care.
  • More HH patients than non-HH patients received opiate medication and treatment for anxiety and depression, had advance directives, received explanations about their social and financial rights, and died at home and/or at the place of their choice.
  • There were no differences between HH and non-HH patients regarding emergency department visits and hospitalization during the last months of life.
Persons with metastatic cancer receive multiple services concomitantly during their last 6 months of life.1 These may include high-technology oncology interventions, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which focus on tumor response, survival, or prolonging life2; palliative and hospice services, which are based on palliative principles3; and complementary and alternative medicine, which are used by some patients.4,5 Most patients also see their family physicians, specialists, and consultants, and make frequent visits to emergency departments (EDs); their rate of hospitalization near death is high.1,6 Given the almost countless types of treatments and service models for those persons, it is important to ask whether home hospice (HH) care makes a meaningful contribution to the quality of life for terminal patients.

There has been increasingly widespread agreement about the indicators of end-of-life quality for patients with metastatic cancer.7 These indicators refer to both the process outcomes of care, as specified by the World Health Organization definition of palliative care.8 The most common process indicators are the quality of the management of physical symptoms, such as pain and shortness of breath, and psychological symptoms, such as depression and anxiety.2,9 Another type of indicator has to do with open communication between the physicians and the patient, including providing information about possible treatments and their prognosis, 10,11 an examination of the patient’s preferences for the end of life, and discussion about advance directives. Other indicators relate to care outputs such as aggressive treatment close to death, death in hospital, multiple visits to the ED, and hospitalizations.1,6

Over the past several decades, there has been growing evidence of the advantages of palliative care for metastatic cancer patients as a vehicle to supply better quality of care. Palliative care has been proved to more easily control physical and psychological symptoms, increase coordinated care, enhance communication and informed decision making, and provide support for families.12-15 Studies have also shown better patient and family satisfaction; Temel et al16 even showed that early integration of palliative care with curative oncologic care resulted in longer survival and meaningful improvements in quality of life and mood. However, several studies have found that the evaluation of HH services is a complicated matter and have cast doubts on the value of its contribution.12,17 In light of this complexity, it is important to use relevant and defined indicators to examine the end-of-life care of cancer patients and whether or not they are treated through palliative services. Hence, the goal of the current study was to examine whether people who had died from metastasized cancer—both HH recipients and nonrecipients—were cared for according to palliative indicators and whether HH care made a difference.

Study Design

The study was conducted in the northern district of Clalit Health Services, the largest health plan in Israel, whose members include 70% of the population in the northern district. The health plan supplies community care, which includes family physicians, nurses, home care, an oncology day care clinic, and HH care. There are also 4 small hospitals in the district, which may propose referral to HH care, but the actual referral is at the physician’s discretion and depends on his or her awareness of the service and the patient’s decision to accept the referral. Home hospice is a 24-hour service that provides care through a multidisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurses, and social workers who coordinate their work. A member of the team visits the patients’ homes at least once a week, and more if needed—even several times every day if necessary. The team supplies symptom management, maintains open communication with the patients and their families, and helps patients to feel confident about remaining at home until death.

The study’s target population consisted of 429 individuals who had lived in the community and died of metastatic cancer between January and September 2009. We were able to contact family members of 193 of them (45%) to ask for their approval for the study and to interview them. The reasons for not interviewing included refusal by family members to be interviewed (29%) and having no surviving family members or no surviving family members that we could find (26%). We compared the characteristics of family members who were interviewed and those that refused and found no statistical differences regarding gender, age, or population group (Jewish or Arab).

Three to 6 months after a patient's death, we approached a member of the deceased’s family and asked permission to conduct a face-to-face interview with the family caregiver, whom we defined as a relative who had lived with the patient and/or provided most of the care without payment, and/or was the contact person with the health system. The caregivers provided written informed consent, after which they were interviewed using a structured closed questionnaire. In addition, we retrieved detailed information on the utilization of healthcare services in the last 2 months of the deceased’s life from the health plan’s computerized administrative files. This information included hospitalizations, ED visits, chemotherapy and radiology treatments in oncology day care clinics, receiving of HH care, and opiate consumption.

The dependent variables in this study were 4 process indicators as perceived by the family members and 3 outcome indicators. The process indicators were: pain management as an indicator of the management of physical symptoms; anxiety and depression management as an indicator of the management of psychological symptoms; and advance directives and the provision of explanations about the social and financial rights of terminal patients, as indicators of social support and communication. The outcome indicators were: receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy curative care in the last 2 months of life; death at the place of the patient’s choice; and the place of death itself. We also studied hospitalization and visits to the ED in the last 2 months of life as indicators of utilization of healthcare services.

The independent variables were receiving/not receiving HH care and the age, gender, and population group of the patients and of their family caregivers.

The data were analyzed by SPSS (version 19). First, for similarity in background characteristics, we compared patients who had received HH care with those who had not, using a χ2 test for gender, birth country, and family relationship with the caregiver, and a t test for age. Then we conducted multivariate ordinal logistic regression models to assess the significance of the difference between the 2 groups regarding the process and outcomes indicators, controlling for age, gender, and birth country. A cutoff of P ≤.05 determined statistical significance.

The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Clalit Health Services, Tel Aviv.

RESULTS

The average age of the patients was 69.5 years (SD = 13.9); 56% were men, and 44% were native Israelis, of whom 73% were Jews and 27% Arabs. The average age of the family caregivers of the patients was 56 years (SD = 13.9); 69% were women, 42% were spouses of the patients, 51% were children of the patients, and the rest were other relatives.

Twenty-one percent of the patients had received HH care, the average duration being 44 days (SD = 29, median = 40, range = 1 day to 96 days). There were no significant differences in the demographic characteristics (gender, age, Jewish, or Arab) of those who had received HH care and those who had not, nor in the characteristics of their family caregivers (age, gender, and family relationship).

About 92% of the HH patients had received opiate medication during the last 2 months of life, compared with 68% of non-HH patients (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 5.28; 95% CI, 1.79-15.55; P <.01) (Figure 1). About 57% of the family members of HH patients reported that their loved ones received treatment for anxiety during the last 2 months of life, compared with 30% of family members of those without HH care (adjusted OR, 3.11; 95% CI, 1.08-8.83; P <.01); and 57% reported treatment for depression, compared with 33% of family members of those without HH care (adjusted OR, 2.75; 95% CI, 0.96-7.86, almost statistically significant).

In addition, 26% of the HH patients had advance directives versus 16% of patients without HH (adjusted OR, 2.11; 95% CI, 0.92-4.80, almost significant). About 57% of the family members whose loved ones received HH care reported that they and the patients had received explanations about the social and financial rights of terminal patients compared with 45% of the family members of patients without HH care (adjusted OR, 2.30; 95% CI, 0.91-5.81, almost statistically significant).

Regarding the outcomes of care, only 5% of the HH patients received chemotherapy or radiotherapy curative treatments in the last 2 months of life compared with 40% of the non-HH patients (adjusted OR, 2.28; 95% CI, 1.07-4.84; P <.05). In addition, 56% of the HH patients died at home compared with only 26% of patients without HH care. Those who died at home were more likely to have been in HH care (adjusted OR, 3.28; 95% CI, 1.64-6.55, P <.01) or to have a woman as their family caregiver at home (adjusted OR, 2.07; 95% CI, 1.07-4.04; P <.05) than those who died in hospital. According to 60% of the family members of the HH patients, their loved one died at the place of their choice, compared with 30% with non-HH patients (adjusted OR, 3.62; 95% CI, 1.84-7.14; P <.01).

No differences were found between the HH and non-HH patients regarding the utilization of healthcare services. About 89% of the HH patients had been hospitalized during the last 2 months of their life and 53% had visited the ED, compared with 83% and 52%, respectively, of non-HH patients (adjusted OR for hospitalization, 61; 95% CI, 0.28- 0.61; adjusted OR for an ED visit, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.95-0.99). Younger age was associated with increased odds of visiting the ED (–0.97; 95% CI, –0.95 to –0.96; P <.05) (Figure 2). DISCUSSION

The current study served as a natural laboratory in which some patients who died from metastasized cancer received multiple services and treatments while others received HH care beyond the other services. We had no control over who received HH and who did not. The study found that HH care had advantages in most process and output indicators; however, the overall picture was not clear-cut. This was reflected in better provision of opiates, more appropriate management of emotional symptoms, and the fact that more patients who received HH care had advance directives and received explanations about their social and financial rights from the HH staff. Regarding output indicators, far fewer HH patients had been given curative or life-extending treatments in the last 2 months of life than non-HH patients, and more of them died at home or at the place of their choice. However, HH care offered no advantage with regard to the use of other health services.

 
Copyright AJMC 2006-2019 Clinical Care Targeted Communications Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
x
Welcome the the new and improved AJMC.com, the premier managed market network. Tell us about yourself so that we can serve you better.
Sign Up