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Cancer Type Plays a Role in Palliative Care

Summary: Blood cancer patients are less likely to access palliative care services than patients with solid tumors, indicating these patients may have unmet palliative care needs. Little is known about blood cancer patients’ unique needs compared to those patients with advanced solid tumors, though differences in use of palliative care likely reflect a fundamental difference in features between blood cancer and solid tumor cancers. Using the framework of Measuring What Matters (MWM), an initiative that prioritizes quality measures in palliative care practice and assesses how clinicians care for palliative care patients, researchers investigated adherence to MWM measures by palliative care clinicians caring for patients with blood cancer compared to those with solid tumors. Blood cancer patients were more likely to be seen in acute care settings compared to solid tumor patients, who were more often seen at home or in clinics. Clinician adherence to MWM was high for measures of pain treatment, documentation of a surrogate, treatment preferences, and receiving care consistent with documented preferences with both cancer types. However, clinicians seeing hematology patients had significantly lower adherence to measures addressing non-pain symptoms and for addressing emotional or psychological needs compared to those with solid tumors. The findings indicate that palliative care clinicians approach the care of patients differently based on cancer type and suggest two key areas for quality improvement initiatives in palliative care in hematology.

Citation: LeBlanc TW, Ritchie CS, Friedman F, Bull J, Kutner JS, Johnson KS, Kamal AH; AAHPM Research Committee Writing Group. Adherence to Measuring What Matters Items When Caring for Patients with Hematologic Malignancies Versus Solid Tumors. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2016 Dec;52(6):775-782. PMID: 27810570

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