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J Gastrointest Surg. 2019 Jan;23(1):153-162. doi: 10.1007/s11605-018-3929-0. Epub 2018 Sep 4.

Regional Differences in Palliative Care Utilization Among Geriatric Colorectal Cancer Patients Needing Emergent Surgery.

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Department of Surgery, Yale School of Medicine, P.O. Box 208062, New Haven, CT, 06520-8062, USA.
National Clinician Scholars Program, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, P.O. Box 208088, New Haven, CT, 06520-8088, USA.
US Department of Veterans Affairs, 950 Campbell Ave, West Haven, CT, 06516, USA.
Section of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, Yale School of Medicine, PO Box 208062, New Haven, CT, 06520-8062, USA.
Section of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, Yale School of Medicine, PO Box 208062, New Haven, CT, 06520-8062, USA.



The benefits of palliative care (PC) in critical illness are validated across a range of diseases, yet it remains underutilized in surgical patients. This study analyzed patient and hospital factors predictive of PC utilization for elderly patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) requiring emergent surgery.


The National Inpatient Sample was queried for patients aged ≥ 65 years admitted emergently with CRC from 2009 to 2014. Patients undergoing colectomy, enterectomy, or ostomy formation were included and stratified according to documentation of PC consultation during admission. Chi-squared testing identified unadjusted group differences, and multivariable logistic regression identified predictors of PC.


Of 86,573 discharges meeting inclusion criteria, only 3598 (4.2%) had PC consultation. Colectomy (86.6%) and ostomy formation (30.4%) accounted for the operative majority. PC frequency increased over time (2.9% in 2009 to 6.2% in 2014, P < 0.001) and was nearly twice as likely to occur in the West compared with the Northeast (5.7 vs. 3.3%, P < 0.001) and in not-for-profit compared with proprietary hospitals (4.5 vs. 2.3%, P < 0.001). PC patients were more likely to have metastases (60.1 vs. 39.9%, P < 0.001) and die during admission (41.5 vs. 6.4%, P < 0.001). On multivariable logistic regression, PC predictors (P < 0.05) included region outside the Northeast, increasing age, more recent year, and metastatic disease.


In the USA, PC consultation for geriatric patients with surgically managed complicated CRC is low. Regional variation appears to play an important role. With mounting evidence that PC improves quality of life and outcomes, understanding the barriers associated with its provision to surgical patients is paramount.


Colorectal neoplasms; Emergency treatment; Geriatrics; Palliative care


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