Hospice Use and High-Intensity Care in Men Dying of Prostate Cancer

Published in: Archives of Internal Medicine, Oct. 11, 2010, p. E1-E7

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2010

by Jonathan Bergman, Christopher S. Saigal, Karl Lorenz, Janet M. Hanley, David C. Miller, John L. Gore, Mark Litwin

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Background: Hospice programs improve the quality of life and quality of death for men dying of cancer. We sought to characterize hospice use by men dying of prostate cancer and to compare the use of high-intensity care between those who did or did not enroll in hospice. Methods: We used linked Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare data to identify a cohort of Medicare beneficiaries who died of prostate cancer between 1992 and 2005. We created 2 multivariable logistic regression models, one to identify factors associated with hospice use and one to determine the association of hospice use with the receipt of diagnostic and interventional procedures and physician visits at the end of life. Results: Of 14 521 men dying of prostate cancer, 7646 (53%) used hospice for a median of 24 days. Multivariable modeling demonstrated that African American ethnicity (odds ratio [OR], 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68-0.88) and higher Charlson comorbidity index (OR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.44-0.55) were associated with lower odds of hospice use, while having a partner (OR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.14-1.32) and more recent year of death (OR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.11-1.14) were associated with higher odds of hospice use. Men dying of prostate cancer who enrolled in hospice were less likely (OR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.74-0.91) to receive high-intensity care, including intensive care unit admissions, inpatient stays, and multiple emergency department visits. Conclusions: The proportion of individuals using hospice is increasing, but the timing of hospice referral remains poor. Those who enroll in hospice are less likely to receive high-intensity end-of-life care.

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