Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 153–162 | Cite as

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

  • Danielle R. Heller
  • Raymond A. Jean
  • Alexander S. Chiu
  • Shelli I. Feder
  • Vadim Kurbatov
  • Charles Cha
  • Sajid A. KhanEmail author
2018 SSAT Plenary Presentation



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.


Palliative care Colorectal neoplasms Geriatrics Emergency treatment 



This publication was made possible by CTSA Grant Numbers TL1 TR001864 and UL1 TR001863 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS), components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIH roadmap for Medical Research, and by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number T35DK104689. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of NIH. We also acknowledge the Center to Advance Palliative Care and the National Palliative Care Research Center for generously permitting use of an original illustration from the “2015 State-by-State Report Card” (Fig. 2).

Author’s Contributions

As per International Committee of Medical Journal Editors guidelines, each listed author made substantial contributions to the manuscript. DR Heller, RA Jean, and SA Khan conceived of and designed this study. Data analysis and interpretation, as well as manuscript drafting and approval, was performed meaningfully by all listed authors. All authors accept responsibility for the accuracy and integrity of this work.


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Copyright information

© The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danielle R. Heller
    • 1
  • Raymond A. Jean
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alexander S. Chiu
    • 1
  • Shelli I. Feder
    • 2
    • 3
  • Vadim Kurbatov
    • 1
  • Charles Cha
    • 4
  • Sajid A. Khan
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.National Clinician Scholars Program, Department of Internal MedicineYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.US Department of Veterans AffairsWest HavenUSA
  4. 4.Section of Surgical Oncology, Department of SurgeryYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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