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J Clin Oncol. 2009 Jan 10;27(2):206-13. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2008.17.7568. Epub 2008 Dec 8.

Phase II study of an outpatient palliative care intervention in patients with metastatic cancer.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Although there is increasing advocacy for timely symptom control in patients with cancer, few studies have assessed outpatient palliative care clinics. This study assessed prospectively the efficacy of an Oncology Palliative Care Clinic (OPCC) in improving patient symptom distress and satisfaction.


Eligible patients were new referrals to an OPCC, had metastatic cancer, were at least 18 years old, and were well enough and able to speak and read English sufficiently to provide informed consent and complete questionnaires. Patients received a consultation by a palliative care team. The primary end points of symptom control and patient satisfaction were assessed using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and patient-adapted Family Satisfaction with Advanced Cancer Care (FAMCARE) scale at baseline, 1 week, and 1 month. Initial and follow-up scores were compared using paired t tests.


Of 150 patients enrolled, 123 completed 1-week assessments, and 88 completed 4-week assessments. At baseline, the mean ESAS Distress Score (EDS) was 39.5. The mean improvement in EDS was 8.8 points (P < .0001) at 1 week and 7.0 points (P < .0001) at 1 month. Statistically significant improvements were observed for pain, fatigue, nausea, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, appetite, dyspnea, insomnia, and constipation at 1 week (all P < or = .005) and 1 month (all P < or = .05). The mean improvement in FAMCARE score was 6.1 points (P < .0001) at 1 week and 5.0 points (P < .0001) at 1 month.


This phase II study demonstrates efficacy of an OPCC for improvement of symptom control and patient satisfaction with care. Randomized controlled trials are indicated to further evaluate the effectiveness of specialized outpatient palliative care.

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