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End of life care for women with gynecologic cancers


Background — Little is known about patterns of end of life (EOL) care in gynecologic cancer patients. This paper reports on five EOL quality indicators: (1) chemotherapy in last 2 weeks of life (2) death in an acute care bed (3) emergency department visits in last 2 weeks of life (4) home care (nursing) visits in last 6 months of life (5) physician house calls in last 2 weeks of life.

Methods — A population-based, retrospective cohort study using administrative sources of healthcare data which was conducted as part of the Project for an Ontario Women's Health Report Card. It describes five health services received near the EOL by women who died of ovarian, uterine or cervical cancer in 2003-2004 in Ontario, Canada. Measures were stratified by age, income and region.

Results — The cohort included 2040 women. Four percent received chemotherapy, 34% visited the emergency department; 27% received a physician house call; 73% received a home care visit; and 51% died in an acute care bed. Older age was associated with lower use of each service. Living in a lower income neighborhood was associated with lower physician home visits. Regional variation across the province was observed for 3 indicators.

Interpretation — Observations made in this study can be used to inform interventions to improve EOL care for women with gynecological cancers. Tracking indicators over time serves to monitor response to improvement interventions. Reporting on the specific needs of this population helps assure that gaps in this domain of care are addressed.



Barbera L, Elit L, Krzyzanowska M, Saskin R, Bierman AS. Gynecol Oncol. 2010; 118(2):196-201. Epub 2010 May 13.

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