Study Shows Academic Hospitals More Adept at Caring for ALL Patients

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During a health outcomes session on the second day of the American Society of Hematology meeting, data presented from a study conducted at the University of Nebraska Medical Center suggested that the site of care bears a significant influence on the outcomes of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

During a health outcomes session on the second day of the American Society of Hematology meeting, Roberto A. Ferro, MD, from the University of Nebraska Medical Center presented study results that evaluated the difference in overall survival (OS) between patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treated in academic hospitals (AH) versus non-academic hospitals (NAH).

“Considering the complications associated with ALL, multidisciplinary leukemia teams may be needed to provide optimal management and selection of optimal therapeutic strategy for patient care,” Ferro said. Their study was designed to test the hypothesis that AH are more likely to have such expertise, adequate resources, standard operating policies and clinical trials, which may influence early mortality and OS in ALL.


To test this hypothesis, the authors used the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) Participant User File, and extracted patient-level data of all patients with ALL, reported between 1998 and 2012. Starting with a cohort of more than 20,000 cases, the authors applied certain filtering criteria, such as complete data on variables such as sex, age, education, income, chemotherapy use, 30-day mortality, etc. Patients, who received all of their first course treatment or a decision not to treat made at the reporting facility, were included. This narrowed the number of patients in this particular study to about 9863.

Ferro said that the hospital facilities were classified as either AH (academic/research program) or NAH (community cancer program, comprehensive community cancer program, and other, as per NCDB classification). Ferro said that their analysis found that 5710 of the 9863 patients with ALL (57.9%) were treated in AH, and a significantly greater number of patients treated at AH:

  • were African American
  • were uninsured or Medicaid insured
  • had traveled long distance to receive healthcare and receive transplant as a part of their treatment.

Based on the data shared by Ferro, the median OS (23 vs 17 months) and 1-year OS (67% vs 59%) were better in AH as compared with NAH. Further, the 30-day mortality was significantly worse in NAH as compared with AH (odds ratio, 1.206; 95% CI, 1.011-1.44; P <.0374).

“Our data suggests a need for interventions that can help prevent existing disparity between academic versus non-academic care facilities, at least with respect to care of ALL patients,” Ferro said. He suggested that the OS of patients with ALL may be improved, if patients receive initial therapy in AH that can boast better provider experience, enhanced multidisciplinary care, and access to clinical trials, among other factors.