Applying Quality Indicators For Administrative Databases To Evaluate End-Of-Life Care For Cancer Patients In Belgium.
End-of-life cancer care has been criticized as frequently inappropriate and aggressive. Providing appropriate care to people with cancer is a public health priority. Quality indicators are considered a valid way to evaluate the appropriateness of end-of-life cancer care within a health care system. We conducted a population-level retrospective observational study of all cancer decedents in Belgium in 2012 to assess end-of-life care and risk factors for exposure to care. We linked eight full-population databases on health care use, cancer diagnoses, and demographic and socioeconomic variables. We used analysis of variance to examine factors associated with exposure to appropriate or inappropriate end-of-life cancer care. Of the 26,464 people in Belgium who died from cancer in 2012, 47 percent received specialist palliative care, and 30 percent died at home. In the last thirty days of life, 17 percent received chemotherapy, and 66 percent received diagnostic testing. For 17 percent, palliative care was initiated only in the last fourteen days of life. Our results suggest a need to focus policy on reducing aggressive and inappropriate care at the end of life and an opportunity to increase the proportion of people who receive specialist palliative care and die at home.