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Factors Influencing Clinical and Setting Pathways After Discharge From an Acute Palliative/Supportive Care Unit

Mercadante, Sebastiano, MD*; Adile, Claudio, MD*; Ferrera, Patrizia, MD*; Casuccio, Alessandra, BS

American Journal of Clinical Oncology: March 2019 - Volume 42 - Issue 3 - p 265–269
doi: 10.1097/COC.0000000000000510
Original Articles: Supportive Care

Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the factors which influence the care pathway after discharge from an acute palliative supportive care unit (APSCU).

Methods: Patients’ demographics, indications for admission, kind of admission, the presence of a caregiver, awareness of prognosis, data on anticancer treatments in the last 30 days, ongoing treatment (on/off or uncertain), the previous care setting, analgesic consumption, and duration of admission were recorded. The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) at admission and at time of discharge (or the day before death), CAGE (cut down, annoy, guilt, eye-opener), and the Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS), were used. At time of discharge, the subsequent referral to other care settings (death, home, home care, hospice, oncology), and the pathway of oncologic treatment were reconsidered (on/off, uncertain).

Results: A total of 314 consecutive cancer patients admitted to the APSCU were surveyed. Factors independently associated with on-therapy were the lack of a caregiver, home discharge, and short hospital admission, in comparison with off-treatment, and less admission for other symptoms, shorter hospital admission, discharge at home, and better well-being, when compared with “uncertain.” Similarly, many factors were associated with discharge setting, but the only factor independently associated with discharge home was being “on-therapy.”

Conclusions: The finding of this study is consistent with an appropriate selection of patients after being discharged by an APSCU, that works as a bridge between active treatments and supportive/palliative care, according the concept of early and simultaneous care.

*Main regional center for pain relief and supportive/palliative care, La Maddalena Cancer center

Department of Sciences for Health Promotion and Mother Child Care, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Sebastiano Mercadante, MD, La Maddalena Cancer Center, Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit & Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit, Via san Lorenzo 312, Palermo 90145, Italy. E-mails:;

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