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End-of-life care in individuals with respiratory diseases: a population study comparing the dying experience between those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer

Kendzerska T, Nickerson JW, Hsu AT, Gershon AS, Talarico R, Mulpuru S, Pakhale S, Tanuseputro P. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2019; 14:1691-701. Epub 2019 Jul 31. DOI: 10.2147/COPD.S210916.


Purpose — Among individuals with COPD and/or lung cancer, to describe end-of-life health service utilization, costs, and place of death; to identify predictors of home palliative care use, and to assess benefits associated with palliative care use.

Patients and Methods — We conducted a retrospective population-based study using provincial linked health administrative data (Ontario, Canada) between 2010 and 2015. We examined health care use in the last 90 days of life in adults 35 years and older with physician-diagnosed COPD and/or lung cancer identified using a validated algorithm and the Ontario Cancer Registry, respectively. Four mutually exclusive groups were considered: (i) COPD only, (ii) lung cancer only, (iii) COPD and lung cancer, and (iv) neither COPD nor lung cancer. Multivariable generalized linear models were employed.

Results — Of 445,488 eligible deaths, 34% had COPD only, 4% had lung cancer only, 5% had both and 57% had neither. Individuals with COPD only received less palliative care (20% vs 57%) than those with lung cancer only. After adjustment, people with lung cancer only were far more likely to receive palliative care (OR=4.22, 4.08–4.37) compared to those with neither diagnosis, while individuals with COPD only were less likely to receive palliative care (OR=0.82, 0.81–0.84). Home palliative care use was associated with reduced death and fewer days in acute care, and less cost, regardless of the diagnosis.

Conclusion — Although individuals with lung cancer were much more likely to receive palliative care than those with COPD, both populations were underserviced. Results suggest greater involvement of palliative care may improve the dying experience of these populations and reduce costs.

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