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Oncologist. 2015 Jul;20(7):767-72. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2015-0023. Epub 2015 Jun 1.

Geriatric Assessment of Older Adults With Cancer During Unplanned Hospitalizations: An Opportunity in Disguise.

Author information

1
Medical Oncology, Royal Columbian Hospital, New Westminister, British Columbia, Canada; Medicine/Hematology-Oncology, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Biostatistics Core, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and School of Nursing, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA carolinejmariano@gmail.com.
2
Medical Oncology, Royal Columbian Hospital, New Westminister, British Columbia, Canada; Medicine/Hematology-Oncology, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Biostatistics Core, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and School of Nursing, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Geriatric assessment (GA) is an important tool for management of older cancer patients; however, GA research has been performed primarily in the outpatient setting. The primary objective of this study was to determine feasibility of GA during an unplanned hospital stay. Secondary objectives were to describe deficits found with GA, to assess whether clinicians recognized and addressed deficits, and to determine 30-day readmission rates.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

The study was designed as an extension of an existing registry, "Carolina Senior: Registry for Older Patients." Inclusion criteria were age 70 and older and biopsy-proven solid tumor, myeloma, or lymphoma. Patients had to complete the GA within 7 days of nonelective admission to University of North Carolina Hospital.

RESULTS:

A total of 142 patients were approached, and 90 (63%) consented to participation. All sections of GA had at least an 83% completion rate. Overall, 53% of patients reported problems with physical function, 63% had deficits in instrumental activities of daily living, 34% reported falls, 12% reported depression, 31% had ‚Č•10% weight loss, and 12% had abnormalities in cognition. Physician documentation of each deficit ranged from 20% to 46%. Rates of referrals to allied health professionals were not significantly different between patients with and without deficits. The 30-day readmission rate was 29%.

CONCLUSION:

GA was feasible in this population. Hospitalized older cancer patients have high levels of functional and psychosocial deficits; however, clinician recognition and management of deficits were poor. The use of GA instruments to guide referrals to appropriate services is a way to potentially improve outcomes in this vulnerable population.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:

Geriatric assessment (GA) is an important tool in the management of older cancer patients; however, its primary clinical use has been in the outpatient setting. During an unplanned hospitalization, patients are extremely frail and are most likely to benefit from GA. This study demonstrates that hospitalized older adults with cancer have high levels of functional deficits on GA. These deficits are under-recognized and poorly managed by hospital-based clinicians in a tertiary care setting. Incorporation of GA measures during a hospital stay is a way to improve outcomes in this population.

KEYWORDS:

Geriatric assessment; Geriatric oncology; Inpatient; Readmission

PMID:
26032136
PMCID:
PMC4492242
DOI:
10.1634/theoncologist.2015-0023
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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