To investigate whether cancer decedents who received palliative care early (ie, >6 months before death) and not-early had different risk of using hospital care and supportive home care in the last month of life.
We identified a population-based cohort of cancer decedents between 2004 and 2014 in Ontario, Canada using linked administrative data. Analysis occurred between August 2017 to March 2019.
We propensity-score matched decedents on receiving early or not-early palliative care using billing claims. We created two groups of matched pairs: one that had Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) home care assessments in the exposure period (Yes-RAI group) and one that did not (No-RAI group) to control for confounders uniquely available in the assessment, such as health instability and pain. The outcomes were the absolute risk difference between matched pairs in receiving hospital care, supportive home care or hospital death.
In the No-RAI group, we identified 36 238 pairs who received early and not-early palliative care. Those in the early palliative care group versus not-early group had a lower absolute risk difference of dying in hospital (−10.0%) and receiving hospital care (−10.4%) and a higher absolute risk difference of receiving supportive home care (23.3%). In the Yes-RAI group, we identified 3586 pairs, where results were similar in magnitude and direction.
Cancer decedents who received palliative care earlier than 6 months before death compared with those who did not had a lower absolute risk difference of receiving hospital care and dying in hospital, and an increased absolute risk difference of receiving supportive home care in the last month of life.