Impact of Palliative Care on Quality of End-of-Life Care Among Brazilian Patients With Advanced Cancers

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2020 Jan;59(1):39-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2019.08.021. Epub 2019 Aug 23.


Context: Many patients with advanced cancer experience aggressive care during the end of life (EOL). Several studies have evaluated the benefits of palliative care (PC) on the reduction of aggressive measures; however, limited data are available about their benefit in Brazilian patients.

Objectives: To evaluate the impact of PC on the reduction of aggressive measures at the EOL.

Methods: Longitudinal study analyzed retrospectively medical records of patients who died of advanced cancer from 2010 to 2014. Data were obtained on PC referral and five quality-of-care indicators at the EOL; that is, emergency department visits, hospital admission, intensive care unit admission, use of systemic antineoplastic therapy within the last 30 days of life, and place of death in hospital as well as the use of a composite score for aggressiveness of care.

Results: Of the 1284 patients, 832 (65%) received some aggressive measures in EOL care. Over the years, there was a reduction in the aggressiveness of care (score = 0: 33.2% vs. 47.1%; P < 0.001). Patients not seen by PC received greater aggressive care compared with patients consulted by PC (score ≥1: 87.4% vs. 52.8%; P < 0.001). Early PC was associated with less chemotherapy (P = 0.001) and fewer emergency department visits (P = 0.004) in the last 30 days of life, when compared with late PC. However, there were no demonstrated benefits to significantly reduce the composite score at EOL care aggressiveness.

Conclusion: Patients with an advanced cancer consultation by PC staff received less aggressive care at the EOL when compared with patients without PC.

Keywords: Neoplasms; palliative care; quality of care; terminal care.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brazil
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Terminal Care*