Characterizations of average end-of-life care for people with cancer can obscure important differences in patients' experiences. Using Medicare claims data for 14,257 patients diagnosed with extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer in the period 1995-2009, we used latent class analysis to identify classes of people with different care patterns. We characterized care trajectories from diagnosis to death using time spent in five care settings-home, hospital inpatient unit (acute), hospital intensive care unit (ICU), postacute skilled nursing facility, and hospice-and transitions across these settings. We identified four classes of patients: 66 percent spent the time primarily at home, 11 percent were primarily in hospice, 17 percent were largely in an acute setting, and 6 percent were largely in an ICU. Patients in these classes differed significantly in terms of baseline clinical characteristics, survival length, time spent in hospice, site of death, and spending. The findings show substantial heterogeneity in patterns of care for patients with advanced cancer, which should be accounted for in efforts to improve end-of-life care.
Project HOPE—The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.
Elderly; Health Spending; Medicare; Medicine/Clinical Issues; Variations