Palliative Care Involvement Is Associated with Less Intensive End-of-Life Care in Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Patients


BACKGROUND: Adolescent and young adult oncology (AYAO) patients often receive intensive medical care and experience significant symptoms at the end of life (EOL). OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to describe the characteristics of AYAO patients aged 15-26 years who died as inpatients in a hospital and to compare the illness and EOL experiences of AYAO patients who did and did not receive palliative care (PC). DESIGN AND SETTING: A standardized data extraction tool was used to collect information about demographics, treatment, terminal characteristics, and symptoms during the last month of life (LMOL) for 69 AYAO patients who died while hospitalized between 2008 and 2014. MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: AYAO patients who died in the hospital required considerable medical and psychosocial care and experienced numerous symptoms during the LMOL. Compared to those patients who received no formal PC services, patients followed by the PC team were less likely to die in the intensive care unit (ICU) (38% vs. 68%, p = 0.024) and less likely to have been on a ventilator (34% vs. 63%, p = 0.028) during the LMOL. They also received fewer invasive medical procedures during the LMOL (median, 1 vs. 3 procedures, p = 0.009) and had a do not resuscitate order in place for a longer time before death (median, 6 vs. two days, p = 0.008). CONCLUSIONS: Involvement of the PC team was associated with the receipt of less intensive treatments and fewer deaths in the ICU.

Publication Title

Journal of palliative medicine