Trend in and Correlates of Undergoing Radiotherapy in Taiwanese Cancer Patients’ Last Month of Life

Yen Ni Hung, Skye Hung Chun Cheng, Tsang Wu Liu, Wen Cheng Chang, Jen Shi Chen, Siew Tzuh Tang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

Abstract

Context A significant proportion of cancer patients at end of life (EOL) undergo radiotherapy, but this evidence is not from nationwide population-based studies. Objectives The aims of this population-based study were to investigate the trend in undergoing radiotherapy among Taiwanese cancer patients’ last month of life (EOL radiotherapy) in 2001–2010 and to identify factors associated with EOL radiotherapy. Methods This was a population-based retrospective cohort study analyzing data from Taiwan's national death registry, cancer registry, and National Health Insurance claims for EOL radiotherapy using multilevel generalized linear mixed modeling. Participants were Taiwanese cancer patients (N = 339,546) who died in 2001–2010. Results Overall, 8.59% (7.97%–9.85%) of patients underwent EOL radiotherapy with a decreasing trend over time. Correlates of EOL radiotherapy included male gender, younger age, residing in less urbanized areas, diagnosis of lung cancer, metastatic disease, death within two years of diagnosis, and without comorbidities. Cancer patients were more likely to undergo EOL radiotherapy if they received primary care from medical oncologists and pediatricians, in a nonprofit, teaching hospital with a larger case volume of terminally ill cancer patients, and greater EOL care intensity. Conclusion Approximately one-tenth of Taiwanese cancer patients underwent EOL radiotherapy with a decreasing trend over time. Undergoing EOL radiotherapy was associated with demographics, disease characteristics, physician specialty, and primary hospital's characteristics and EOL care practice patterns. Clinical and financial interventions should target hospitals/physicians that tend to aggressively treat at-risk cancer patients at EOL to carefully evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of using EOL radiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-403
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Volume52
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 01 09 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Keywords

  • Radiotherapy
  • administrative data analysis
  • end-of-life care
  • population-based study
  • quality of end-of-life care

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