Palliative care and psychosocial care in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer: factors affecting utilisation of services and impact on patient survival



Palliative care (PC) and psychosocial care (PSC) are essential services, which can positively impact on quality of life in patients with metastatic lung cancer, when advanced disease and poor prognosis preclude the use of curative therapies. The aims of this study were to describe patterns of PC and PSC and identify factors associated with service utilisation and overall patient survival.


A retrospective Australian cohort of South Western Sydney residents with newly diagnosed stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in 2006–2012 was identified from the Local Health District Clinical Cancer Registry. Supplemental information was sourced from the area PC database and hospital medical records. Cox regression models with robust variance identified factors associated with PC and PSC and examined patient survival.


A total of 923 patients were identified. Eighty-three per cent of patients were seen by PC, with 67% seen within 8 weeks of diagnosis. PSC utilisation was 82%. Radiotherapy treatment and residential area were associated with both PC and PSC. Increasing age was associated with early PC referral. Median overall survival was 4 months. PC was associated with patient survival; however, the effect varied over time.


The rate of PC and PSC in our metastatic NSCLC population was high when compared with published data. Despite this, there were gaps in PC and PSC provision in this population, notably with patients not receiving active treatment, and those receiving systemic therapy utilising these services less frequently. PSC and PC contact were not convincingly associated with improved patient survival.

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Correspondence to Kirsten J. Duggan.

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Duggan, K.J., Wiltshire, J., Strutt, R. et al. Palliative care and psychosocial care in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer: factors affecting utilisation of services and impact on patient survival. Support Care Cancer 27, 911–919 (2019).

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  • Lung neoplasms
  • Palliative care
  • Psychosocial care
  • Survival
  • Service utilisation