Patients with both cancer and psychosis-to what extent do they receive specialized palliative care

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2024 Apr;149(4):313-322. doi: 10.1111/acps.13666. Epub 2024 Feb 18.


Background: Schizophrenia and advanced cancer are complex conditions that impact life expectancy. This study aimed to examine the receipt of specialized palliative care (SPC) in patients with metastatic cancer and a coexisting diagnosis of psychosis compared to patients with cancer only. Secondary objectives included analyzing differences in emergency visits and place of death in relation to receipt of SPC.

Patients and methods: This retrospective, observational registry study utilized health care consumption data from the Stockholm Regional Council. We included 23,056 patients aged >18 years who died between 2015 and 2021 with a diagnosis of metastatic cancer, hematologic malignancy, or malignant brain tumor in the Stockholm Gotland region. Among them, 320 patients had a concomitant diagnosis of psychosis.

Results: Patients with cancer and psychosis were less likely to receive SPC compared to patients with cancer only (61% vs. 74%, p < 0.001). Additionally, they were, on average, four and a half years younger at the time of death (68.5 years vs. 73.1 years, p < 0.0001), more likely to reside in nursing homes (25% vs. 11%, p < 0.0001), and had a higher prevalence of low area-based socioeconomic status (46% vs. 32%, p < 0.0001). Receipt of SPC was associated with reduced frequency of emergency visits and a higher probability of place of death to be at home or in a care facility outside the acute hospital.

Conclusions: Patients with a coexisting diagnosis of psychosis and metastatic cancer have a lower probability of receiving SPC. Receipt of specialized palliative care was associated with reduced number of unplanned emergency visits and a lower risk for death at an acute hospital. Efforts are needed to ensure equitable provision of SPC for patients with cancer and psychosis.

Keywords: comorbidity; equal care; metastatic cancer; psychosis; specialized palliative care.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Palliative Care
  • Psychotic Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders* / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies