Clinical and laboratory characteristics associated with referral of hospitalized elderly to palliative care
To investigate clinical and laboratory characteristics associated with referral of acutely ill older adults to exclusive palliative care.
A retrospective cohort study based on 572 admissions of acutely ill patients aged 60 years or over to a university hospital located in São Paulo, Brazil, from 2009 to 2013. The primary outcome was the clinical indication for exclusive palliative care. Comprehensive geriatric assessments were used to measure target predictors, such as sociodemographic, clinical, cognitive, functional and laboratory data. Stepwise logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of palliative care.
Exclusive palliative care was indicated in 152 (27%) cases. In the palliative care group, in-hospital mortality and 12 month cumulative mortality amounted to 50% and 66%, respectively. Major conditions prompting referral to palliative care were advanced dementia (45%), cancer (38%), congestive heart failure (25%), stage IV and V renal dysfunction (24%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (8%) and cirrhosis (4%). Major complications observed in the palliative care group included delirium (p<0.001), infections (p<0.001) and pressure ulcers (p<0.001). Following multivariate analysis, male sex (OR=2.12; 95%CI: 1.32-3.40), cancer (OR=7.36; 95%CI: 4.26-13.03), advanced dementia (OR=12.6; 95%CI: 7.5-21.2), and albumin levels (OR=0.25; 95%CI: 0.17-0.38) were identified as independent predictors of referral to exclusive palliative care.
Advanced dementia and cancer were the major clinical conditions associated with referral of hospitalized older adults to exclusive palliative care. High short-term mortality suggests prognosis should be better assessed and discussed with patients and families in primary care settings.