End-of-Life Transitions and Hospice Utilization for Adolescents: Does Having a Usual Source of Care Matter?

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Adolescents with life-limiting illnesses have intensive end-of-life trajectories and could benefit from initiation of hospice services. The medical home model, which includes having a usual source of primary care, may help facilitate quality outcomes at the end of life for adolescents. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between having a usual source of primary care on hospice utilization and end-of-life transitions among adolescents between 15 and 20 years with a life-limiting illness. A retrospective cohort design used 2007-2010 California Medicaid claims data (N = 585). Our dependent variables were hospice utilization (ie, hospice enrollment and hospice length of stay), and the independent variable was usual source of primary care. Multivariate regression techniques including least squares regression, multivariate logistic regression, and negative binomial regression were used in the analysis of the relationship between usual source of primary care and hospice utilization and end-of-life transitions. Ten percent of our sample used hospice services. Having a usual source of primary care was associated with an increase in hospice enrollment, hospice length of stay, and end-of-life transitions. Adolescents with a cancer diagnosis were more likely to enroll in hospice services. For adolescents at the end of life, having a usual source of primary care had a significant effect on hospice enrollment and length of stay. This study is among the first to demonstrate a relationship between primary care and hospice use among this vulnerable population.

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