Physical Exercise: An Evaluation of a New Clinical Biomarker of Survival in Hospice Patients

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Purpose:Survival analysis is an important issue in palliative care. However, there is a lack of quality clinical biomarkers for assessing survival, especially in bedridden patients. Recent research supports the benefit of physiotherapy in palliative care, as majority of hospice patients are able to perform physical therapy. We propose the hypothesis that the difference in activity during physical exercise can be used as a biomarker of survival in hospice care.Methods:We examined 536 consecutive patients who performed physical exercises in our hospice from March 2013 to July 2017. Univariate, multivariate, and Kaplan-Meier analysis were performed to explore the association between the level of physical exercise activity and survival.Results:Physical exercises were performed by almost 70% of our hospice patients. The patients who initially performed active exercises lived longer, on average, compared to patients who only managed passive exercises (15 days vs 6 days, hazard ratio 0.60, 0.49-0.74). Surprisingly, the difference in survival based on the level of physical activity remained consistent regardless of the patient performance score, emphasizing its usefulness as an independent survival biomarker in a hospice setting. This tool also gave us an option to recognize a significant proportion of bedridden patients performing active exercises (30%), previously unrecognized using standard performance scales, exhibiting longer survival compared to others with the same performance score.Conclusion:Patients’ level of activity during physical exercises has the potential to be a valuable new clinical biomarker in palliative care, whether used individually or combined with commonly used performance scales.

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