Background: Studies show that early, integrated palliative care (PC) improves quality of life (QoL) and end-of-life (EoL) care for patients with poor-prognosis cancers. However, the optimal strategy for delivering PC for those with advanced cancers who have longer disease trajectories, such as metastatic breast cancer (MBC), remains unknown. We tested the effect of a PC intervention on the documentation of EoL care discussions, patient-reported outcomes, and hospice utilization in this population. Patients and Methods: Patients with MBC and clinical indicators of poor prognosis (n=120) were randomly assigned to receive an outpatient PC intervention (n=61) or usual care (n=59) between May 2, 2016, and December 26, 2018, at an academic cancer center. The intervention entailed 5 structured PC visits focusing on symptom management, coping, prognostic awareness, decision-making, and EoL planning. The primary outcome was documentation of EoL care discussions in the electronic health record (EHR). Secondary outcomes included patient-report of discussions with clinicians about EoL care, QoL, and mood symptoms at 6, 12, 18, and 24 weeks after baseline and hospice utilization. Results: The rate of EoL care discussions documented in the EHR was higher among intervention patients versus those receiving usual care (67.2% vs 40.7%; P=.006), including a higher completion rate of a Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form (39.3% vs 13.6%; P=.002). Intervention patients were also more likely to report discussing their EoL care wishes with their doctor (odds ratio [OR], 3.10; 95% CI, 1.21–7.94; P=.019) and to receive hospice services (OR, 4.03; 95% CI, 1.10–14.73; P=.035) compared with usual care patients. Study groups did not differ in patient-reported QoL or mood symptoms. Conclusions: This PC intervention significantly improved rates of discussion and documentation regarding EoL care and delivery of hospice services among patients with MBC, demonstrating that PC can be tailored to address the supportive care needs of patients with longer disease trajectories.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02730858