Publication Abstract

Authors: Hutchinson RN, Lucas FL, Becker M, Wierman HR, Fairfield KM

Title: Variations in Hospice Utilization and Length of Stay for Medicare Patients With Melanoma.

Journal: J Pain Symptom Manage 55(4):1165-1172.e5

Date: 2018 Apr

Abstract: CONTEXT: Timely hospice referral is an indicator of high-quality end-of-life care for cancer patients. Variations in patient characteristics associated with hospice utilization and length of stay have been demonstrated in studies of other malignancies but not melanoma. OBJECTIVES: We sought to understand hospice utilization and patient characteristics associated with variability in use for the older melanoma population. METHODS: We used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database to identify 13,393 melanoma patients aged 65+ years at time of diagnosis between 2000 and 2009, who died by 12/31/10. The primary outcome was enrollment in hospice with secondary outcome of hospice duration. Patient characteristics associated with variations in hospice enrollment were examined. RESULTS: Among 13,393 patients who died with melanoma, 5298 (40%) received hospice care. Of these, 17% were enrolled in hospice for three days or less, while 13% had ≥90 days of hospice care. Despite improvements over time in the proportion of patients who received hospice and those who received at least 90 days of hospice care, late hospice enrollments did not change. Multivariable analysis revealed that patients of older age, with distant disease at time of diagnosis, and residing in rural areas or in census tracts with higher rates of high school completion were more likely to enroll in hospice. CONCLUSION: Rates of hospice enrollment increased over time but remained under accepted quality benchmarks with variations evident in those who receive hospice services. Efforts to increase access to earlier hospice care for all patients dying with melanoma are essential.