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Emergency Department Attendance By Patients With Cancer In Their Last Month Of Life: A Systematic Review And Meta-analysis.

Lesley A Henson, W. Gao, I. Higginson, M. Smith, J. Davies, C. Ellis-Smith, B. Daveson
Published 2015 · Medicine

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PURPOSE To explore factors associated with emergency department (ED) attendance by patients with cancer in their last month of life. METHODS Five electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Library) were searched through February 2014 for studies investigating ED attendance toward the end of life by adult patients (age 18 years or older) with cancer. No time or language limitations were applied. We performed meta-analysis of factors using a random-effects model, with results expressed as odds ratios (OR) for ED attendance. Sensitivity analyses explored heterogeneity. RESULTS Thirty studies were identified, reporting three demographic, five clinical, and 13 environmental factors, combining data from five countries and 1,181,842 patients. An increased likelihood of ED attendance was found for men (OR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.19 to 1.29; I(2), 58.2%), black race (OR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.40 to 1.50; I(2), 0.0%; reference, white race), patients with lung cancer (OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.10 to 1.23; I(2), 59.5%; reference, other cancers), and those patients of the lowest socioeconomic status (SES; OR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.10 to 1.19; I(2), 0.0%; reference, highest SES). Patients receiving palliative care were less likely to attend the ED in their last month of life (OR, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.36 to 0.51; I(2), 59.4%). CONCLUSION We identified demographic (men; black race), clinical (lung cancer), and environmental (low SES; no palliative care) factors associated with an increased risk of ED attendance by patients with cancer in their last month of life. Our findings may be used to develop screening interventions and assist policy-makers to direct resources. Future studies should also investigate previously neglected areas of research, including psychosocial factors, and patients' and caregivers' emergency care preferences.
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