Blood Cancer Patients Less Likely to Receive Hospice Care
June 15, 2017 03:36 PM
Patients with blood cancer are much less likely to enroll in hospice care than patients with solid cancers, according to a new study from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The research indicates blood cancer patients are less likely to enroll for hospice care themselves and less likely to be referred for hospice care by hematologic oncologists, though the reasons for this are not yet clear.
The study revealed that even when they do enter hospice, blood cancer patients spend less time in hospice than patients with other types of cancer.
The study used a random survey of 349 hematologic oncologists in the United States, asking them to characterize their views on the utility and adequacy of hospice for blood cancer patients, as well as factors that might impact referral patterns. The study revealed that almost half of oncologists believed hospice believed home hospice is “inadequate” to meet the needs of blood cancer patients compared to inpatient hospices with 24-hour care. However, 68 percent of hematologic oncologists regarded hospice as “helpful” to blood cancer patients.
Most of the hematologic oncologists who believed home hospice is inadequate reported they would be more likely to refer patients if red blood cell transfusions were readily available.
The authors concluded that although hematologic oncologists value hospice, concern about the ability of hospice to meet the specific needs of blood cancer patients is limiting referrals. Therefore, changes to hospice to make it more useful to blood cancer patients will probably be required to increase hospice enrollment for that specific community of cancer patients.
“Our findings are important as they shed light on factors that are potential barriers to hospice referrals,” said Dr. Oreofe Odejide,” one of the authors of the study. These findings can be employed to develop targeted interventions to address hospice underuse for patients with blood cancers.”