Predictors of Location of Death for Children with Cancer Enrolled on a Palliative Care Service

AbstractBackground.In the U.S., more children die from cancer than from any other disease, and more than one third die in the hospital setting. These data have been replicated even in subpopulations of children with cancer enrolled on a palliative care service. Children with cancer who die in high‐acuity inpatient settings often experience suffering at the end of life, with increased psychosocial morbidities seen in their bereaved parents. Strategies to preemptively identify children with cancer who are more likely to die in high‐acuity inpatient settings have not been explored.Materials and Methods.A standardized tool was used to gather demographic, disease, treatment, and end‐of‐life variables for 321 pediatric palliative oncology (PPO) patients treated at an academic pediatric cancer center who died between 2011 and 2015. Multinomial logistic regression was used to predict patient subgroups at increased risk for pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) death.Results.Higher odds of dying in the PICU were found in patients with Hispanic ethnicity (odds ratio [OR], 4.02; p = .002), hematologic malignancy (OR, 7.42; p < .0001), history of hematopoietic stem cell transplant (OR, 4.52; p < .0001), total number of PICU hospitalizations (OR, 1.98; p < .0001), receipt of cancer‐directed therapy during the last month of life (OR, 2.96; p = .002), and palliative care involvement occurring less than 30 days before death (OR, 4.7; p < .0001). Conversely, lower odds of dying in the PICU were found in patients with hospice involvement (OR, 0.02; p < .0001) and documentation of advance directives at the time of death (OR, 0.37; p = .033).Conclusion.Certain variables may predict PICU death for PPO patients, including delayed palliative care involvement. Preemptive identification of patients at risk for PICU death affords opportunities to study the effects of earlier palliative care integration and increased discussions around preferred location of death on end‐of‐life outcomes for children with cancer and their families.Implications for Practice.Children with cancer who die in high‐acuity inpatient settings often experience a high burden of intensive therapy at the end of life. Strategies to identify patients at higher risk of dying in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) have not been explored previously. This study finds that certain variables may predict PICU death for pediatric palliative oncology patients, including delayed palliative care involvement. Preemptive identification of patients at risk for PICU death affords opportunities to study the effects of earlier palliative care integration and increased discussions around preferred location of death on end‐of‐life outcomes for children with cancer and their families.

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Predictors of Location of Death for Children with Cancer Enrolled on a Palliative Care Service

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