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The health care cost of palliative care for cancer patients: a systematic review



Several delivery models of palliative care are currently available: hospital-based, outpatient-based, home-based, nursing home-based, and hospice-based. Weighing the differences in costs of these delivery models helps to advise on the future direction of expanding palliative care services. The objective of this review is to identify and summarize the best available evidence in the US on cost associated with palliative care for patients diagnosed with cancer.


The systematic review was carried out of studies conducted in the US between 2008 and 2018, searching PubMed, Medline, the Cochrane library, CINAHL, EconLit, the Social Science Citation Index, Embase, and Science Citation Index, using the following terms: palliative, cancer, carcinoma, cost, and reimbursement.


The initial search identified 748 articles, of which 16 met the inclusion criteria. Eight studies (50%) were inpatient-based, four (25%) were combined outpatient/inpatient, two (12.5%) reported only on home-based palliative services, and two (12.5%) were in multiple settings. Most included studies showed that palliative care reduced the cost of health care by $1285–$20,719 for inpatient palliative care, $1000–$5198 for outpatient and inpatient combined, $4258 for home-based, and $117–$400 per day for home/hospice, combined outpatient/inpatient palliative care.


Receiving palliative care after a cancer diagnosis was associated with lower costs for cancer patients, and remarkable differences exist in cost saving across different palliative care models.

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Correspondence to Sandhya Yadav.

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Yadav, S., Heller, I.W., Schaefer, N. et al. The health care cost of palliative care for cancer patients: a systematic review. Support Care Cancer 28, 4561–4573 (2020).

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  • Palliative care
  • Cost
  • Cancer
  • Systematic review