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End-of-life care characteristics for young adults with cancer who die in the hospital. J Palliat Med 2014 Dec;17(12):1359-64



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Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84964698025   27 Citations


BACKGROUND: Evidence suggests nonelderly adults with cancer are likely to receive aggressive treatment in their last month of life and less likely to receive hospice and/or palliative services. Young adults with cancer (18-39 years) are a unique population, and little is known about the characteristics of their end-of-life care trajectories when they die in the hospital.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this descriptive pilot study was to explore the characteristics of death among young adults with cancer who died in a tertiary academic hospital in order to elucidate their end-of-life trajectories.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review was conducted among hospitalized young adults with a primary cancer diagnosis who died in the hospital within a 10-year period. Study variables were abstracted for quantification and medical record notes were reviewed for validation.

RESULTS: A review of 61 patient records indicate that young adults commonly received cancer treatment within weeks of death and that do-not-resuscitate orders were frequently written only when death appeared imminent. Palliative care teams were frequently consulted for management of physical symptoms but often within days of death and most commonly on the day of death.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest palliative care was initiated late in the care trajectory for young adults with cancer who died in the hospital. This study highlights the need for further inquiry into end-of-life care for young adults with cancer so that interventions can be developed to meet the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of this unique group of patients, their families, and friends.

Author List

Keim-Malpass J, Erickson JM, Malpass HC


Jeanne M. Erickson PhD, RN Associate Professor in the College of Nursing department at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Academic Medical Centers
Hospital Mortality
Medical Audit
Palliative Care
Pilot Projects
Retrospective Studies
Terminal Care
Young Adult