Clinical response to an outpatient palliative care consultation in patients with advanced cancer and cancer pain

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012 Sep;44(3):340-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2011.09.014. Epub 2012 Jun 13.


Context: There is limited published data regarding the outcomes of palliative care consult on cancer pain treatment at the first follow-up visit.

Objectives: The primary aim of this study was to determine pain treatment response to an outpatient palliative care consultation at the first follow-up visit for patients with cancer pain.

Methods: Data from consecutive patients (n=1612) who were referred to the outpatient Supportive Care Center at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and completed the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System at their initial and subsequent visits from January 2003 to December 2010 were reviewed. All patients received interdisciplinary care led by palliative care specialists following an institutional protocol. Pain treatment response was defined as a ≥2 point or ≥30% reduction from baseline. Using logistic regression models, predictive factors associated with pain treatment response were assessed.

Results: The mean (SD) baseline pain was 5.36 (2.9). Of the 1612 patients, 462 (29%) rated their pain as mild (numeric rating scale [NRS] score 0-3), 511 (32%) as moderate (NRS score 4-6), and 639 (39%) as severe (NRS score 7-10). Almost half (728 of 1612 [45%]) of the patients achieved pain treatment response. However, 228 of 728 (31%) responding patients still had pain ≥4 at the first follow-up visit in 15 days on average. Of the 462 patients with mild pain at baseline, 147 (32%) had worse pain at the first follow-up visit. Factors associated with clinical response were baseline pain intensity (odds ratio [OR] per point 1.4; P<0.01), fatigue (OR per point 1.01; P=0.014), and Edmonton Symptom Assessment System symptom burden (OR per point 1.01; P=0.039).

Conclusion: More than half of the patients with moderate/severe pain were nonresponders, and about one-third of the patients with mild pain had an increase in pain severity to moderate/severe levels at the first follow-up. More frequent follow-up visits, phone calls, and interdisciplinary clinics may improve pain control.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care / methods*
  • Ambulatory Care / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Palliative Care / psychology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult