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Year: 2022  Vol. 26   Num. 4  - Oct/Dec
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1741436
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Original Article
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Referral Patterns of Outpatient Palliative Care among the Head and Neck Cancer Population
Author(s):
Ari Saravia, Keonho Albert Kong, Ryan Roy, Rachel Barry, Christine Guidry, Lee S. McDaniel, Mary C. Raven, Anna M. Pou, Ashley C. Mays
Key words:
palliative care - head and neck cancer - pain management - symptom management - resource utilization - advance care planning
Abstract:

Introduction Patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) experience unique physical and psychosocial challenges that impact their health and quality of life. Early implementation of palliative care has been shown to improve various health care outcomes.

Objective The aim of the present study was to evaluate the patterns of referral of patients with HNC to outpatient palliative care as they relate to utilization of resources and end-of-life discussions.

Methods We performed a retrospective review of 245 patients with HNC referred to outpatient palliative care services at two Louisiana tertiary care centers from June 1, 2014, to October 1, 2019. The control group consisted of those that were referred but did not follow-up. Reasons for referral were obtained, and outcome measures such as emergency department (ED) visits, hospital readmissions, and advance care planning (ACP) documentation were assessed according to predictive variables.

Results There were 177 patients in the treatment group and 68 in the control group. Patients were more likely to follow up to outpatient palliative care services if referred for pain management. Hospital system, prior inpatient palliative care, and number of outpatient visits were associated with an increased likelihood for ED visits and hospital readmissions. Those in the palliative care treatment group were also more likely to have ACP discussions.

Conclusion Early implementation of outpatient palliative care among patients with HNC can initiate ACP discussions. However, there are discrepancies in referral reasons to palliative care and continued existing barriers to its effective utilization.

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