Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 135 Dauer Drive, Campus Box 7411, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7411, USA; RTI International, 3040 East Cornwallis Road, PO Box 12194, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2194, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
BACKGROUND : Studies show palliative care delivered concurrently with cancer treatment improves outcomes, yet palliative care integration with inpatient oncology is underused. A promising approach to improve integration is a triggered palliative care consultation (TPCC). This study evaluated the impact of two TPCC approaches on consistency and quality of consult implementation, operationalized as uptake and timeliness, on solid tumor medical and gynecologic oncology services at an academic hospital. METHODS : The study timeframe was 2010-2016. TPCC in gynecologic oncology began in 2014 and was supported by a single strategy (written guideline); TPCC in medical oncology began in 2015 and was supported by multiple strategies (e.g. training, chart review). Palliative care consult information was chart abstracted and linked to hospital encounter data. We compared the effect of a single strategy vs. usual care, and multiple strategies vs. a single strategy on implementation. Difference-in-differences modified Poisson regression models evaluated whether implementation differed after TPCC; we estimated adjusted relative risk (aRR), controlling for patient demographic and clinical characteristics. RESULTS : Overall, 8.8% of medical oncology and 11.0% of gynecologic oncology inpatient encounters involved palliative care consultation. In regression analyses, TPCC supported by a single strategy in gynecologic oncology was associated with greater uptake vs. usual care (aRR: 1.45, p < .05), and TPCC supported by multiple strategies in medical oncology was associated with greater uptake vs. a single strategy (aRR: 2.34, p < .001). CONCLUSIONS : Across two inpatient oncology services, TPCC supported by multiple strategies had the greatest impact on uptake. How strategies affect sustained use of palliative care consults remains to be investigated.