BACKGROUND: Advance care planning (ACP), palliative care (PC), and hospice are often underutilized by African Americans (AAs). This study assessed the impact of stage of intent to discuss ACP options as key potential barriers.
METHODS: We examined intent to discuss completion of ACP, PC, and hospice among 22 AA patients with cancer admitted to a local safety net hospital. Participants were asked about intent to discuss an advanced directive or living will (AD/LW), medical power of attorney (MPOA), PC, and hospice with their doctors. Intent to discuss these ACP components was based on the transtheoretical model. Electronic health records were reviewed at various intervals to assess completion of ACP behaviors and survival.
RESULTS: Participants had colorectal (33%), breast (44%), and lung (23%) cancer, and 82% had stage III/IV disease. Low percentages of patients were in the precontemplation stage for AD/LW completion (4.6%), MPOA completion (13.6%), and PC discussions (27.2%), but 77.2% were in the precontemplation stage for hospice discussions. At 1 year, only 5% completed an AD/LW, 36.4% appointed an MPOA, 42.9% were referred to PC, and 12.5% were referred to hospice. More than half (54.6%) were deceased by the study's conclusion. Most (81%) of these died within 6 months of their baseline study assessment.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite being hospitalized with advanced cancer and having poor prognosis, intent to discuss ACP options, PC, and hospice in this population was variable, and completion of these activities was low. This formative research is needed to develop education and counseling interventions for this high-risk, vulnerable population.
OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to examine the association between available patient and clinical characteristics and healthcare utilization in a cohort of breast, lung, and colorectal cancer patients within a safety-net hospital system.
METHODS: Data for 979 breast, lung, and colorectal cancer patients admitted to a large, urban hospital for the year 2010 were extracted from the electronic medical record (EMR). Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the association between relevant independent variables that were able to be captured from the EMR in discrete fields, emergency room (ER) utilization, and hospitalizations among members of the cohort. Spearman correlation coefficients to test the correlations between nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and opioid prescriptions and healthcare utilization were also calculated.
RESULTS: Of the 979 patients, 22% were 65 years and older, 43% were non-Hispanic black, 42% had Medicare, and 56% had colorectal cancer. Patient and clinical characteristics that were associated with increased ER utilization, included Hispanic ethnicity (adjusted odds ratio; AOR: 2.21, 95% confidence interval; CI: 1.52–3.21), non-Hispanic black race (AOR: 2.01, 95% CI: 1.43–2.82), and referral to palliative care (AOR: 2.15, 95% CI: 1.36–3.41). Referral to palliative care (AOR: 3.84, 95% CI: 1.47–10.0), low albumin (AOR: 2.42, 95% CI: 1.20–4.89), and presence of metastases (AOR: 1.98, 95% CI: 1.29–3.06) were associated with greater odds of hospitalization. Number of opioids prescribed strongly correlated with number of hospitalizations ( correlation = 0.74). Only 10.6% of patients had been referred to outpatient palliative care during the study period.
CONCLUSIONS: Some patient and clinical characteristics associated with increased ER visits and hospitalizations in this cohort include race/ethnicity, palliative care referral, markers of advanced disease, and number opioids prescribed. Increasing knowledge of palliative care and access to palliative care among the underserved should be a focus of future research.