PURPOSE: To examine quality indicators of end-of-life (EOL) care among privately insured people with cancer in Brazil.
METHODS: We evaluated medical records linked to health insurance databank to study consecutive patients who died of cancer. We collected information about demographics, cancer type, and quality indicators of EOL care including emergency department (ED) visits, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, chemotherapy use, medical imaging utilization, blood transfusions, home care support, days of inpatient care, and hospital deaths.
RESULTS: We included 865 patients in the study. In the last 30 days of life, 62% visited the ED, 33% were admitted to the ICU, 24% received blood transfusions, and 51% underwent medical imaging. Only 1% had home care support in the last 60 days of life, and 29% used chemotherapy in the last 14 days of life. Patients had an average of 8 days of inpatient care and 52% died in the hospital. Patients with advanced cancer who used chemotherapy were more likely to visit the ED (78% vs 59%; P < .001), undergo medical imaging (67% vs 51%; P < .001), and die in the hospital (73% vs 50%; P = .03) than patients who did not use chemotherapy. In the multivariate analysis, chemotherapy use near death and advanced cancer were associated with ED visits and ICU admissions, respectively (odds ratio >1).
CONCLUSION: Our study suggests that privately insured people with cancer receive poor quality EOL care in Brazil. Further research is needed to assess the impact of improvements in palliative care provision in this population.