Earlier palliative care consultation is associated with lower cost of hospital stay for patients with advanced cancer, according to a recent study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

In a prospective, observational study, Peter May, MSc, of the Centre for Health Policy and Management at Trinity College and fellow researchers collected clinical and cost data in patients with advanced cancer admitted from 2007 to 2011 in five U.S. hospitals.

Economic evaluation was conducted in 969 patients, with 256 who received palliative care consultation and 713 who received usual care only.

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They found that earlier consultation was associated with a larger effect on total direct cost, with intervention within six days estimated to reduce costs by $1,312 (14 percent) compared with no intervention. Intervention within two days was estimated to reduce costs by $2,280 (24 percent).

“These findings are consistent with a growing body of research on quality and survival suggesting that early palliative care should be more widely implemented,” the authors concluded.


  1. May, Peter, et al. “Prospective Cohort Study of Hospital Palliative Care Teams for Inpatients With Advanced Cancer: Earlier Consultation Is Associated With Larger Cost-Saving Effect.” Journal of Clinical Oncology. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.60.2334. [epub ahead of print]. June 8, 2015.