Bioethics Blogs

Trend toward MORE Aggressive Care at End of Life for Cancer Patients

Recently, in JAMA Oncology, researchers report an eight-fold increase in the adjusted percentage of decedents who received “all care”  at the end of life.  

The authors looked at survey data from nearly 2000 next-of-kin surrogates of Health and Retirement Study participants with cancer who died between 2000 and 2012, including data from in-depth “exit” interviews conducted with the surrogates after the participant’s death. The HRS is a nationally representative, biennial, longitudinal panel study of US residents older than 50 years. 

Patients receiving “all care possible” at EOL increased during the period (7% to 58%, P = .004).  The authors concluded that “cancer care continues to be both highly intensive and geographically variable, likely driven in large part by local practice patterns instead of patients’ preferences.”

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