Hospice utilization and its effect on acute care needs at the end of life in medicare beneficiaries with hepatocellular Carcinoma

Hanna K. Sanoff, Yun Kyung Chang, Melissa Reimers, Jennifer L. Lund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Introduction Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a poor-prognosis cancer with a high symptom burden. Multidisciplinary HCC care is complex and unique in cancer medicine. We sought to determine whether the distinct process affects hospice use and how hospice affects end-of-life acute care utilization. Patients and Methods Patients dying after HCC diagnosed from 2004 to 2011 were identified within SEERMedicare. Hospice use and associated factors were described using logistic regression. Coarse exact and propensity score matching created groups of hospice and nonhospice comparators balanced on clinical characteristics. Health care use from first hospice claim to death and the matched duration in the nonhospice group were compared. Results Of 7,992 decedent patients with HCC, 63% used hospice before death, with a median duration of 18 days (interquartile range, 5-51 days). Initial treatment with surgery and ablation (odds ratio [OR], 0.63; 95% CI, 0.53 to 0.74) or chemoembolization/ radioembolization (OR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.62 to 0.80) was associated with decreased odds of subsequent hospice use compared with untreated patients. Hospice use was more likely in those consulting hematology/oncology (OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.13 to 1.56) but not in those consulting gastroenterology (OR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.65 to 0.95). Hospice patients had lower rates of hospitalization (7.9% v 47.8%; risk ratio [RR], 0.16; 95% CI, 0.14 to 0.19), intensive care unit stay (2.8% v 25.3%; RR, 0.11; 95% CI, 0.09 to 0.14), and in-hospital death (3.5% v 58.4%; RR, 0.06; 95% CI, 0.05 to 0.07). Conclusion Processes of care influence which patients with HCC are referred to hospice. Hospice use has a marked effect on acute care use at the end of life in patients with HCC. Efforts to incorporate cancer-focused palliative care might improve the quality of end-of-life care in HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e197-e206
JournalJournal of Oncology Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


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