Health care outcomes and advance care planning in older adults who receive home-based palliative care: a pilot cohort study

J Palliat Med. 2015 Jan;18(1):38-44. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2014.0150.


Background: Approximately 20% of seniors live with five or more chronic medical illnesses. Terminal stages of their lives are often characterized by repeated burdensome hospitalizations and advance care directives are insufficiently addressed. This study reports on the preliminary results of a Palliative Care Homebound Program (PCHP) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to service these vulnerable populations.

Objective: The study objective was to evaluate inpatient hospital utilization and the adequacy of advance care planning in patients who receive home-based palliative care.

Methods: This is a retrospective pilot cohort study of patients enrolled in the PCHP between September 2012 and March 2013. Two control patients were matched to each intervention patient by propensity scoring methods that factor in risk and prognosis. Primary outcomes were six-month hospital utilization including ER visits. Secondary outcomes evaluated advance care directive completion and overall mortality.

Results: Patients enrolled in the PCHP group (n = 54) were matched to 108 controls with an average age of 87 years. Ninety-two percent of controls and 33% of PCHP patients were admitted to the hospital at least once. The average number of hospital admissions was 1.36 per patient for controls versus 0.35 in the PCHP (p < 0.001). Total hospital days were reduced by 5.13 days. There was no difference between rates of ER visits. Advanced care directive were completed more often in the intervention group (98%) as compared to controls (31%), with p < 0.001. Goals of care discussions were held at least once for all patients in the PCHP group, compared to 41% in the controls.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning / organization & administration*
  • Advance Directives / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Home Care Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota
  • Palliative Care / organization & administration*
  • Patient Outcome Assessment
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Retrospective Studies