Palliative Care Specialist Consultation Is Associated With Supportive Care Quality in Advanced Cancer

Anne M. Walling, Diana Tisnado, Susan L. Ettner, Steven M. Asch, Sydney E Dy, Philip Pantoja, Martin Lee, Sangeeta C. Ahluwalia, Hannah Schreibeis-Baum, Jennifer L. Malin, Karl A. Lorenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Context Although recent randomized controlled trials support early palliative care for patients with advanced cancer, the specific processes of care associated with these findings and whether these improvements can be replicated in the broader health care system are uncertain. Objectives The aim of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of palliative care consultation and its association with specific processes of supportive care in a national cohort of Veterans using the Cancer Quality ASSIST (Assessing Symptoms Side Effects and Indicators of Supportive Treatment) measures. Methods We abstracted data from 719 patients' medical records diagnosed with advanced lung, colorectal, or pancreatic cancer in 2008 over a period of three years or until death who received care in the Veterans Affairs Health System to evaluate the association of palliative care specialty consultation with the quality of supportive care overall and by domain using a multivariate regression model. Results All but 54 of 719 patients died within three years and 293 received at least one palliative care consult. Patients evaluated by a palliative care specialist at diagnosis scored seven percentage points higher overall (P < 0.001) and 11 percentage points higher (P < 0.001) within the information and care planning domain compared with those without a consult. Conclusion Early palliative care specialist consultation is associated with better quality of supportive care in three advanced cancers, predominantly driven by improvements in information and care planning. This study supports the effectiveness of early palliative care consultation in three common advanced cancers within the Veterans Affairs Health System and provides a greater understanding of what care processes palliative care teams influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-514
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2016



  • Advanced cancer
  • palliative care
  • quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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