Abstract [from journal]
Objectives: Assess whether frequently-used claims-based end-of-life (EOL) measures are associated with higher ratings of care quality.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting/participants: Deceased fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with cancer who underwent chemotherapy during July 2016 to January 2017 and died within 12 months and their caregiver respondents to an after-death survey (n = 2,559).
Measurements: We examined claims-based measures of EOL care: chemotherapy 14 days or more before death; inpatient admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) use, and emergency department (ED) visits 30 days or more before death; hospice election and the timing of election before death. Primary outcomes are family ratings of "excellent" care in the last month of life and reports that hospice care began "at the right time." Associations were assessed with logistic regression, adjusted by patient characteristics.
Results: Family rated EOL care as excellent less often, if within 30 days before death the cancer patient had inpatient admissions (1 hospitalization = 41.5% vs 51.5% none, adjusted difference -10.1 percentage points), ICU use (38.6% for any ICU use vs 47.4% none; adjusted difference -8.8 percentage points), ED visits (41.0% 1 visit vs 51.6% no visits; adjusted difference -10.6 percentage points), or elected hospice within 7 days before death. Among hospice enrollees, family more often reported that hospice began at the right time if it started at least 7 days before death (hospice 1-2 days before death 60.2% vs hospice 7-13 days 74.9%; adjusted difference +14.7 percentage points).
Conclusions: Claims-based measures of EOL care for cancer patients that reflect avoidance of hospital-based care and earlier hospice enrollment are associated with higher ratings of care quality by bereaved family members.