BACKGROUND: Oesophageal and gastric cancer are highly lethal malignancies with a 5-year survival rate of 15-29%. More knowledge is needed about the quality of end-of-life care in order to understand the burden of the illness and the ability of the current health care system to deliver timely and appropriate end-of-life care. The aim of this study was to describe the impact of initial treatment strategy and survival time on the quality of end-of-life care among patients with oesophageal and gastric cancer. METHODS: This register-based cohort study included patients who died from oesophageal and gastric cancer in Sweden during 2014-2016. Through linking data from the National Register for Esophageal and Gastric Cancer, the National Cause of Death Register, and the Swedish Register of Palliative Care, 2156 individuals were included. Associations between initial treatment strategy and survival time and end-of-life care quality indicators were investigated. Adjusted risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals were calculated using modified Poisson regression. RESULTS: Patients with a survival of ≤3 months and 4-7 months had higher RRs for hospital death compared to patients with a survival ≥17 months. Patients with a survival of ≤3 months also had a lower RR for end-of-life information and bereavement support compared to patients with a survival ≥17 months, while the risks of pain assessment and oral assessment were not associated with survival time. Compared to patients with curative treatment, patients with no tumour-directed treatment had a lower RR for pain assessment. No significant differences were shown between the treatment groups regarding hospital death, end-of-life information, oral health assessment, and bereavement support. CONCLUSIONS: Short survival time is associated with several indicators of low quality end-of-life care among patients with oesophageal and gastric cancer, suggesting that a proactive palliative care approach is imperative to ensure quality end-of-life care.
- Folkhälsovetenskap, global hälsa, socialmedicin och epidemiologi