Interdisciplinary Palliative Care for Patients with Lung Cancer

Betty Ferrell, Virginia Sun, Arti Hurria, Mihaela Cristea, Dan J. Raz, Jae Y. Kim, Karen Reckamp, Anna Cathy Williams, Tami Borneman, Gwen Uman, Marianna Koczywas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Context Palliative care, including symptom management and attention to quality of life (QOL) concerns, should be addressed throughout the trajectory of a serious illness such as lung cancer. Objectives This study tested the effectiveness of an interdisciplinary palliative care intervention for patients with Stage I-IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Methods Patients undergoing treatments for NSCLC were enrolled in a prospective, quasi-experimental study whereby the usual care group was accrued first followed by the intervention group. Patients in the intervention group were presented at interdisciplinary care meetings, and appropriate supportive care referrals were made. They also received four educational sessions. In both groups, QOL, symptoms, and psychological distress were assessed at baseline and 12 weeks using surveys which included the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung and the Lung Cancer Subscale, the 12-item Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being, and the Distress Thermometer. Results A total of 491 patients were included in the primary analysis. Patients who received the intervention had significantly better scores for QOL (109.1 vs. 101.4; P < 0.001), symptoms (25.8 vs. 23.9; P < 0.001) spiritual well-being (38.1 vs. 36.2; P = 0.001), and lower psychological distress (2.2 vs. 3.3; P < 0.001) at 12 weeks, after controlling for baseline scores, compared to patients in the usual care group. Patients in the intervention group also had significantly higher numbers of completed advance care directives (44% vs. 9%; P < 0.001), and overall supportive care referrals (61% vs. 28%; P < 0.001). The benefits were seen primarily in the earlier stage patients vs. those with Stage IV disease. Conclusion Interdisciplinary palliative care in the ambulatory care setting resulted in significant improvements in QOL, symptoms, and distress for NSCLC patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-767
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Lung cancer
  • distress
  • interdisciplinary care
  • palliative care
  • quality of life
  • symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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