Availability of important services and adequacy of care are among the factors explaining low numbers of patients with hematologic cancers being referred for hospice care, according to a study published in Cancer.1

While hospice is recognized as important for end-of-life care, few patients with hematologic cancers are enrolled relative to other patients with cancer. The reasons for this discrepancy are, however, unclear.

For this mail survey–based study, researchers randomly selected 667 hematologic oncologists in the United States to answer a series of questions about patient enrollment in hospice care.

Of eligible respondents, 349 physicians completed the survey. Three-quarters of responders were male; the median age of respondents was 52.

Most respondents (68.1%) “strongly agreed” that patients with hematologic malignancies would benefit from hospice care; more than 90%, however, “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that this patient group would benefit from hospice.

Slightly less than half of respondents agreed that hospice care is adequate for some patients. More than half noted that home hospice is inadequate for patient needs.

More than half of respondents reported that the availability of red cell transfusions and platelet transfusions would increase the likelihood of referring patients for hospice care.

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The authors concluded that “new models of hospice that more expansively address these needs — such as allowing red cell transfusions and continuing oncology visits — will be essential to improving enrollment and quality of EOL [end-of-life] care for this patient population.”

Reference

  1. Odejide OO, Cronin AM, Earle CC, Tulsky JA, Abel GA. Why are patients with blood cancers more likely to die without hospice? Cancer. 2017 May 22. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30735 [Epub ahead of print]