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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 129

of 'Benefits, services, and models of subspecialty palliative care'

Do patients with advanced cancer and unmet palliative care needs have an interest in receiving palliative care services?
Schenker Y, Park SY, Maciasz R, Arnold RM
J Palliat Med. 2014 Jun;17(6):667-72. Epub 2014 Mar 27.
BACKGROUND: It is not known whether unmet palliative care needs are associated with an interest in palliative care services among patients with advanced cancer receiving ongoing oncology care.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between unmet palliative care needs and patient interest in subspecialty palliative care services.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional telephone survey.
SUBJECTS AND SETTING: One hundred sixty-nine patients with advanced cancer receiving care from 20 oncologists at two academic cancer centers.
MEASUREMENTS: Surveys assessed palliative care needs in six domains. Patients were read a description of palliative care and then asked three questions about their current interest in subspecialty palliative care services (perceived need, likelihood of requesting, willingness to see if their oncologist recommended; all outcomes on 0-10 Likert scale).
RESULTS: The vast majority of patients described unmet palliative care needs, most commonly related to psychological/emotional distress (62%) and symptoms (62%). In fully adjusted models accounting for clustering by oncologist, unmet needs in these domains were associated with a higher perceived need for subspecialty palliative care services (psychological/emotional needs odds ratio [OR]1.30; 95% confidence interval [CI]1.06-1.58; p=0.01; symptom needs OR 1.27; 95% CI 1.01-1.60; p=0.04). There was no significant association between unmet needs and likelihood of requesting palliative care services. Willingness to see palliative care if oncologist recommended was high (mean 8.6/10, standard deviation [SD]2).
CONCLUSION: Patients with advanced cancer and unmet symptom and psychological/emotional needs perceive a high need for subspecialty palliative care services but may not request them. Efforts to increase appropriate use of subspecialty palliative care for cancer may require oncologist-initiated referrals.
1 Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.