Barriers of Acceptance to Hospice Care: a Randomized Vignette-Based Experiment

Elizabeth T. Trandel, Jane Lowers, Megan E. Bannon, Laura T. Moreines, Elisabeth P. Dellon, Patrick White, Sarah H. Cross, Tammie E. Quest, Keith Lagnese, Tamar Krishnamurti, Robert M. Arnold, Krista L. Harrison, Rachel E. Patzer, Li Wang, Ali John Zarrabi, Dio Kavalieratos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The per diem financial structure of hospice care may lead agencies to consider patient-level factors when weighing admissions. Objective: To investigate if treatment cost, disease complexity, and diagnosis are associated with hospice willingness to accept patients. Design: In this 2019 online survey study, individuals involved in hospice admissions decisions were randomized to view one of six hypothetical patient vignettes: “high-cost, high-complexity,” “low-cost, high-complexity,” and “low-cost, low-complexity” within two diseases: heart failure and cystic fibrosis. Vignettes included demographics, prognoses, goals, and medications with costs. Respondents indicated their perceived likelihood of acceptance to their hospice; if likelihood was <100%, respondents were asked the barriers to acceptance. We used bivariate tests to examine associations between demographic, clinical, and organizational factors and likelihood of acceptance. Participants: Individuals involved in hospice admissions decisions Main Measures: Likelihood of acceptance to hospice care Key Results: N=495 (76% female, 53% age 45–64). Likelihoods of acceptance in cystic fibrosis were 79.8% (high-cost, high-complexity), 92.4% (low-cost, high-complexity), and 91.5% (low-cost, low-complexity), and in heart failure were 65.9% (high-cost, high-complexity), 87.3% (low-cost, high-complexity), and 96.6% (low-cost, low-complexity). For both heart failure and cystic fibrosis, respondents were less likely to accept the high-cost, high-complexity patient than the low-cost, high-complexity patient (65.9% vs. 87.3%, 79.8% vs. 92.4%, both p<0.001). For heart failure, respondents were less likely to accept the low-cost, high-complexity patient than the low-cost, low-complexity patient (87.3% vs. 96.6%, p=0.004). Treatment cost was the most common barrier for 5 of 6 vignettes. Conclusions: This study suggests that patients receiving expensive and/or complex treatments for palliation may have difficulty accessing hospice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-284
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


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