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Regional collaborative home-based palliative care and health care outcomes among adults with heart failure

Quinn KL, Stukel TA, Campos E, Graham C, Kavalieratos D, Mak S, Steinberg L, Tanuseputro P, Tuna M, Isenberg SR. CMAJ. 2022; 194(37):E1274-82. Epub 2022 Sep 26. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.220784


Background — Innovative models of collaborative palliative care are urgently needed to meet gaps in end-of-life care among people with heart failure. We sought to determine whether regionally organized, collaborative, home-based palliative care that involves cardiologists, primary care providers and palliative care specialists, and that uses shared decision-making to promote goal- and need-concordant care for patients with heart failure, was associated with a greater likelihood of patients dying at home than in hospital.

Methods — We conducted a population-based matched cohort study of adults who died with chronic heart failure across 2 large health regions in Ontario, Canada, between 2013 and 2019. The primary outcome was location of death. Secondary outcomes included rates of health care use, including unplanned visits to the emergency department, hospital admissions, hospital lengths of stay, admissions to the intensive care unit, number of visits with primary care physicians or cardiologists, number of home visits by palliative care physicians or nurse practitioners, and number of days spent at home.

Results — Patients who received regionally organized, collaborative, home-based palliative care (n = 245) had a 48% lower associated risk of dying in hospital (relative risk 52%, 95% confidence interval 44%–66%) compared with the matched cohort (n = 1172) who received usual care, with 101 (41.2%) and 917 (78.2%) patients, respectively, dying in hospital (number needed to treat = 3). Additional associated benefits of the collaborative approach included higher rates of clinician home visits, longer time to first hospital admission, shorter hospital stays and more days spent at home.

Interpretation — Adoption of a model of regionally organized, collaborative, home-based palliative care that uses shared decision-making may improve end-of-life outcomes for people with chronic heart failure.

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