Hospital and home chemotherapy for children with leukemia: A randomized cross-over study
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BACKGROUND: The study objective was to compare a hospital-based and a home-based chemotherapy program for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in relation to Quality of Life (QOL), safety, caregiver burden, and costs. PROCEDURE: A randomized cross-over trial (RCT) design with repeated measures was conducted with 23 children with ALL who attended the oncology outpatient clinic of a metropolitan university affiliated tertiary level pediatric hospital and who also received home visits from a community health services care provider in central Canada. RESULTS: During the home-treatment phase, children were more capable of maintaining their usual routines than when receiving hospital chemotherapy (Wilcoxon statistic = 80, P = 0.023), but they appeared to experience greater emotional distress (Wilcoxon sign rank statistic S = 66, P = 0.043) according to parental report. Treatment location had no effect on caregiver burden and adverse effects. No significant differences between groups existed with respect to societal costs of care. As the child's age increased, QOL improved relative to younger children (t(20) = -2.37, P = 0.02), the time burden related to child care tasks was reduced (t(21) = -3.56, P = 0.002), caregiver effort/difficulty in physical and behavioral support decreased (t(21) = -2.09, P = 0.049) and the odds of experiencing one or more adverse events decreased (OR = 0.79, CI = (0.63-1.00), chi(1) (2) = 4.01, P = 0.045). CONCLUSIONS: With few differences noted between groups, these results indicate preliminary support for administrating some or all of a child's chemotherapy at home. Home chemotherapy was associated with specific improvements and decrements in parent reported QOL. No effects were seen on burden of care, adverse events, or cost. Overall, young age adversely affected QOL, burden of care, and adverse events. These data provide important information to families and caregivers as they consider home or hospital-based therapy in childhood ALL.
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