PURPOSE: Avoidable hospital admissions are important negative indicators of quality of end-of-life care. Specialized palliative care (SPC) may support patients in remaining at home. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate if SPC at home could prevent hospital admissions in patients with incurable cancer.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: These are secondary results of Domus: a randomized controlled trial of accelerated transition to SPC with psychological intervention at home (clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01885637). Participants were patients with incurable cancer and limited antineoplastic treatment options and their caregivers. They were included from the Department of Oncology, Rigshospitalet, Denmark between 2013 and 2016. The control group received usual care. Outcomes were hospital admissions, causes thereof, and patient and caregiver perceptions of place of care (home, hospital etc.) at baseline, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 6 months.
RESULTS: During the study, 340 patients were randomized and 322 were included in modified intention-to-treat analyses. Overall, there were no significant differences in hospital admissions between the groups. The intervention group had more admissions triggered by worsened general health (22% v 16%, p=0.0436) or unmanageable home situation (8% v 4%, p=0.0119). After diagnostics, admissions were more often caused by clinical symptoms of cancer without progression in the intervention group (11% v 7%, p=0.0493). The two groups did not differ significantly in overall potentially avoidable admissions. Both groups felt mostly safe about their place of care.
CONCLUSION: The intervention did not prevent hospital admissions. Likely, any intervention effects were outweighed by increased identification of problems in the intervention group leading to hospital admissions. Overall, patients and caregivers felt safe in their current place of care.