End of life care for glioblastoma patients at a large academic cancer center


Glioblastoma (GBM) is a universally fatal disease, complicated by significant cognitive and physical disabilities, inherent to the disease course. The purpose of this study was to retrospectively analyze end-of-life care for GBM patients at an academic center and compare utilization of these services to national quality of care guidelines, with the goal of identifying opportunities to improve end-of-life care. Single center retrospective cohort study of GBM patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) between 2009 and 2014, using electronic medical records and hospice records. Comprehensive medical record review of 100 randomly selected patients with GBM, who were actively treated at JHH. Secondary analysis of all JHH GBM patients (n = 45) who received hospice care at Gilchrist Services, our largest provider, during this time period. Of 100 patients, 76 were referred to hospice. Despite the poor survival and changes in mental capacity associated with this disease, only 40% of individuals had documentation of code status and only 17% had any documentation of advance directives (ADs). None had documentation by a health care provider of a formal symptom, psychosocial, or spiritual assessment at greater than 50% of clinic visits. Only 17% used chemotherapy in their last month of life. 37% were hospitalized in the last month of life for an average of 9 days. Of the Gilchrist Services patients, the median length of stay in hospice was 21 days and 64% of these patients died in their residence with hospice services. Documentation of palliative care and end-of-life measures could improve quality of care for GBM patients, especially in the use of ADs, symptom, spiritual, and psychosocial assessments, with earlier use of hospice to prevent end-of-life hospitalizations.

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TJS is supported by the Harry J. Duffey Family Fund and NCI grant P 30 006973.

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Correspondence to Thomas J. Smith.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study was approved by the Johns Hopkins eIRB.

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Kuchinad, K.E., Strowd, R., Evans, A. et al. End of life care for glioblastoma patients at a large academic cancer center. J Neurooncol 134, 75–81 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11060-017-2487-8

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  • Hospice
  • Palliative care
  • Glioblastoma