Early Palliative Care Improves Quality of Life, Survival

August 27, 2010

Starting palliative care early can lead to significant improvements in both quality of life and mood for patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Starting palliative care early can lead to significant improvements in both quality of life and mood for patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In a randomized study, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital assessed the effect “of introducing palliative care early after diagnosis on patient-reported outcomes and end-of-life care among ambulatory patients with newly diagnosed disease.” Patients were assigned to receive either early palliative care combined with standard oncologic care, or standard oncologic care alone. Quality of life and mood were measured at baseline and at 12 weeks using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy—Lung (FACT-L) scale and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, respectively.

Of the patients who underwent randomization, 86% completed the assessment. According to the investigators, patients who were assigned to early palliative care had a better quality of life than those assigned to standard care, scoring an average of 98.0 compared with 91.5 on the FACT-L scale. Patients in the palliative care were less likely to exhibit depressive symptoms; additionally, despite the fact that they fewer patients in the early palliative care group received aggressive end-of-life care (33% vs. 54%), they demonstrated longer median survival rates (11.6 months vs. 8.9 months) than patients in the standard care group.

The researchers concluded that “among patients with metastatic non—small-cell lung cancer, early palliative care led to significant improvements in both quality of life and mood.”

For more:

  • Blog posting: Lisa Schulmeister, RN, “Quality of Care at End-of-Life
  • Blog posting: Hospitalist Inside Perspective, “Predicting Prognosis and Addressing Goals of Care
  • Onc & Biotech News: Spiritual Support Improves Quality of Life for Oncology Patients Near Death