Article ID: 6734-20
Objective In Japan, both medical oncologists and pulmonologists treat lung cancer patients; however, the difference in their attitude toward palliative care referral is unknown. Thus, we retrospectively investigated the difference in attitudes toward palliative care referral between medical oncologists and pulmonologists in Japan.
Methods We retrospectively reviewed the charts of patients with thoracic malignancy who died at Shimane University Hospital between June 2011 and October 2015. We compared the patients' demographics and medical history according to their doctor's specialty (i.e., medical oncologist or pulmonologist).
Results We identified 182 patients, among whom 90 were treated by medical oncologists and 56 by pulmonologists at the outpatient clinic. Thirty-six patients did not undergo outpatient clinic treatment. Out of 59 patients, 22 (37.3%) referred by medical oncologists, and 7 out of 36 patients (19.4%) referred by pulmonologists, were referred to palliative care specialists in the outpatient setting (p=0.107, Fisher's exact test). The median survival time after admission to PCU was 21 (95% CI: 13-32) and 9 (95% CI: 5-15) days among the patients treated by medical oncologists and pulmonologists, respectively (p=0.128).
Conclusion Medical oncologists are more likely to refer their patients to palliative care in the outpatient setting, thus enabling patients to receive longer end of life care in the PCU. Bridging the research gap regarding differences between the physicians' attitudes toward palliative care referral may lead to patients receiving more quality palliative care. (227 words)