Background: Patients with advanced, incurable cancer who understand their illness is incurable are more likely to prefer hospice care at the end of life compared with patients who believe their illness is curable. To the authors' knowledge, it is unclear whether patient-caregiver agreement regarding perceived prognosis is associated with hospice enrollment. Methods: The current study examined the prospective relationship between patient-caregiver agreement concerning perceived prognosis and hospice enrollment in the last 30 days of life. Data were collected during a cluster randomized controlled trial examining a communication intervention for oncologists and patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers. At the time of study entry, patients and caregivers (141 dyads) were categorized as endorsing a “good” prognosis if they: 1) reported a >50% chance of surviving ≥2 years; or if they 2) predicted that the patient's quality of life 3 months into the future would be ≥7 on an 11-point scale. Results: Approximately one-fifth of dyads agreed on a poor prognosis whereas approximately one-half disagreed regarding prognosis. In approximately one-third of dyads, patients and caregivers both believed the patient's future quality of life would be good (34%) and that the patient would live for ≥2 years (30%). Patients in these dyads were less likely to enroll in hospice compared with patients in dyads who disagreed and those who agreed on a shorter life expectancy and poor future quality of life. Conclusions: Dyadic understanding of patients' projected life expectancy and future quality of life appears to be predictive of care received at the end of life. Improving rates of hospice enrollment may be best achieved with dyadic interventions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research