Determinants of Palliative Care Utilization Among Patients Hospitalized With Metastatic Gastrointestinal Malignancies

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Gastrointestinal tract cancers account for a significant proportion of the national cancer burden.


We sought to explore patient- and hospital-level determinants of palliative care utilization among patients hospitalized with metastatic gastrointestinal tract cancers using a national database.


An analysis of the 2012 National Inpatient Sample was performed. International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes were used to identify hospital discharges associated with metastatic digestive tract cancers and patient/hospital covariates for inclusion in a logistic regression model. Total charges and length of stay were analyzed in a linear regression model.


Compared to males, females were more likely to receive inpatient palliative care (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.12, P = .002). No difference was seen between white and Asian patients (adjusted OR 1.2, P = .11) or Native Americans patients (adjusted OR 1.4, P = .22). However, relative to white patients, African Americans (adjusted OR 1.13, P = .02) and Hispanics (adjusted OR 1.25, P = .001) had significantly higher odds of inpatient palliative care. Medicare patients were least likely to receive palliative care compared to those with Medicaid or commercial payers. Length of stay during these hospitalizations was longer in African Americans (P = .0001), Asians (P = .0001), and Native Americans (P = .03) compared to white patients. No difference was seen when total charges were compared between white and African American patients (P = .08). Conversely, total charges were higher in Hispanics (P = .005) and Asians (P = .001) relative to white patients.


Gender and racial differences exist in utilization of inpatient palliative care among patients hospitalized with metastatic gastrointestinal tract cancers.

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