A new study published in the Lancet concluded that providing early outpatient palliative care to cancer patients provided a higher quality of care and was more satisfying to patients than standard oncological care.
Four hundred sixty one patients with advanced lung, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, breast and gynecological cancers at 24 m3edical oncology clinics were studied. All participants completed a baseline survey and received the same clinical care over four months. The 228 patients in the early intervention group also received formal monthly consultation with the palliative care team in a specialized outpatient clinic, plus regular phone follow-up. Initial palliative consultation included a comprehensive, multidisciplinary assessment of symptoms, psychological distress, social support, and home services. Following the study, patients were offered continued follow-up in the outpatient palliative care clinic. A cancer-specific measure that included physical, function, social, psychological, and spiritual was used to measure quality of life that is an important aspect of palliative care. Researchers said “The key outcome validates that quality of life improves with the core intervention of seeing a physician and nurse with specific palliative care training once a month in the outpatient clinic.” Another important outcome was patients reporting improved satisfaction of care. The measure showed that despite the worse status of the intervention group at baseline, there was a trend for improvement in quality of life at three months and clinically meaningful improvement at four months. In addition, patient satisfaction improved significantly at both three and four months while it deteriorated in the control group.