Background: The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which patterns of intensive end-of-life care explain geographic variation in end-of-life care expenditures among cancer decedents. Methods: Using the SEER-Medicare database, we identified 90,465 decedents who were diagnosed with cancer in 2004–2011. Measures of intensive end-of-life care included chemotherapy received within 14 days of death; more than 1 emergency department visit, more than 1 hospitalization, or 1 or more intensive care unit (ICU) admissions within 30 days of death; in-hospital death; and hospice enrollment less than 3 days before death. Using hierarchical generalized linear models, we estimated risk-adjusted expenditures in the last month of life for each hospital referral region and identified key contributors to variation in expenditures. Results: The mean expenditure per cancer decedent in the last month of life was $10,800, ranging from $8,300 to $15,400 in the lowest and highest expenditure quintile areas, respectively. There was considerable variation in the percentage of decedents receiving intensive end-of-life care intervention, with 41.7% of decedents receiving intensive care in the lowest quintile of expenditures versus 57.9% in the highest quintile. Regional patterns of late chemotherapy or late hospice use explained only approximately 1% of the expenditure difference between the highest and lowest quintile areas. In contrast, the proportion of decedents who had ICU admissions within 30 days of death was a major driver of variation, explaining 37.6% of the expenditure difference. Conclusions: Promoting appropriate end-of-life care has the potential to reduce geographic variation in end-of-life care expenditures.
Shi-Yi Wang, Jane Hall, Craig E. Pollack, Kerin Adelson, Amy J. Davidoff, Jessica B. Long and Cary P. Gross
Nikolai A. Podoltsev, Mengxin Zhu, Amer M. Zeidan, Rong Wang, Xiaoyi Wang, Amy J. Davidoff, Scott F. Huntington, Smith Giri, Steven D. Gore and Xiaomei Ma
Background: Current guidelines recommend hydroxyurea (HU) as frontline therapy for patients with high-risk essential thrombocythemia (ET) to prevent thrombosis. However, little is known about the impact of HU on thrombosis or survival among these patients in the real-world setting. Patients and Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted of older adults (aged ≥66 years) diagnosed with ET from 2007 through 2013 using the linked SEER-Medicare database. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to assess the effect of HU on overall survival, and multivariable competing risk models were used to assess the effect of HU on the occurrence of thrombotic events. Results: Of 1,010 patients, 745 (73.8%) received HU. Treatment with HU was associated with a significantly lower risk of death (hazard ratio [HR], 0.52; 95% CI, 0.43–0.64; P<.01). Every 10% increase in HU proportion of days covered was associated with a 12% decreased risk of death (HR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.86–0.91; P<.01). Compared with nonusers, HU users also had a significantly lower risk of thrombotic events (HR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.41–0.64; P<.01). Conclusions: Although underused in our study population, HU was associated with a reduced incidence of thrombotic events and improved overall survival in older patients with ET.
Scott F. Huntington, Jessica R. Hoag, Rong Wang, Amer M. Zeidan, Smith Giri, Steven D. Gore, Xiaomei Ma, Cary P. Gross and Amy J. Davidoff
Background: Provider experience, or clinical volume, is associated with improved outcomes in many complex healthcare settings. Despite increased complexity of anticancer therapies, studies evaluating physician-level experience and cancer treatment outcomes are lacking. Methods: A population-based study was conducted of older adults (aged ≥66 years) diagnosed with B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2004 through 2011 using SEER-Medicare data. Analysis focused on outcomes in patients receiving rituximab, the first approved monoclonal anticancer immunotherapy. We hypothesized that lower physician experience using rituximab and managing its infusion-related reactions would be associated with early treatment discontinuation. A 12-month look-back from each initiation of rituximab was used to categorize physician volume (0, 1–2, or ≥3 initiations per year). Modified Poisson regression was used to account for provider-level correlation and estimated relative risk (RR) of early rituximab discontinuation (<3 cycles within 180 days of rituximab initiation). Cox proportional hazards were used to measure the impact of rituximab discontinuation on survival. Results: Among 15,110 patients who initiated rituximab with 2,684 physicians, 7.6% experienced early rituximab discontinuation. Approximately one-fourth of patients (26.1%) initiated rituximab with a physician who had no rituximab initiations during the preceding 12 months. Compared with patients treated by physicians who had ≥3 rituximab initiations in the prior year, those treated by physicians without initiations were 57% more likely to experience early discontinuation (adjusted RR [aRR], 1.57; 95% CI, 1.35–1.82; P<.001 for 0 vs ≥3, and aRR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.03–1.37; P=.02 for 1–2 vs ≥3). Additionally, rituximab discontinuation was associated with higher risk of death (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.28–1.52; P<.001). Conclusions: Lower oncologist experience with rituximab was associated with increased risk of early rituximab discontinuation in Medicare beneficiaries with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Physician-level volume may be an important factor in providing high-quality cancer care in the modern era.