PALLiative care in ONcology (PALLiON): A cluster-randomised trial investigating the effect of palliative care on the use of anticancer treatment at the end of life

Palliat Med. 2024 Feb;38(2):229-239. doi: 10.1177/02692163231222391. Epub 2024 Jan 9.


Background: Effects on anticancer therapy following the integration of palliative care and oncology are rarely investigated. Thus, its potential effect is unknown.

Aim: To investigate the effects of the complex intervention PALLiON versus usual care on end-of-life anticancer therapy.

Design: Cluster-randomised controlled trial (RCT), registered at (No. NCT01362816). The complex intervention consisted of a physician education program enhancing theoretical, clinical and communication skills, a patient-centred care pathway and patient symptom reporting prior to all consultations. Primary outcome was overall use, start and cessation of anticancer therapy in the last 3 months before death. Secondary outcomes were patient-reported outcomes. Mixed effects logistic regression models and Cox proportional hazard were used.

Setting: A total of 12 Norwegian hospitals (03/2017-02/2021).

Participants: Patients ⩾18 years, advanced stage solid tumour, starting last line of anticancer therapy, estimated life expectancy ⩽12 months.

Results: A total of 616 (93%) patients were included (intervention: 309/control:307); 63% males, median age 69, 77% had gastrointestinal cancers. Median survival time from inclusion was 8 (IQR 3-14) and 7 months (IQR 3-12), and days between anticancer therapy start and death were 204 (90-378) and 168 (69-351) (intervention/control). Overall, 78 patients (13%) received anticancer therapy in the last month (intervention: 33 [11%]/control: 45 [15%]). No differences were found in patient-reported outcomes.

Conclusion: We found no significant differences in the probability of receiving end-of-life anticancer therapy. The intervention did not have the desired effect. It was probably too general and too focussed on communication skills to exert a substantial influence on conventional clinical practice.

Keywords: Antineoplastic agents; end-of-life care; palliative care; patient-reported outcomes; randomised controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Death
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Palliative Care*
  • Quality of Life

Associated data