There is a paucity of randomized studies evaluating the value of palliative interventions on a prospective basis in newly diagnosed oncology patients. We sought to prospectively evaluate quality of life (QoL) outcomes in advanced cancer patients who received discussion-based palliative care interventions from an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) integrated into the oncology team, and compare these outcomes with a control population.
Patients with metastatic cancer were randomized to standard care or an ARNP-directed intervention that included discussions of the benefits of hospice, discussions on living wills and advanced directives (Five Wishes document) along with an assessment of QoL. Relevant endpoints included change from baseline QoL and improvement in hospice knowledge.
From November 13, 2008, through July 28, 2009, 26 patients were accrued at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. The study closed early due to published data demonstrating the benefits of early palliative care interventions in the management of metastatic cancer patients. Statistically significant improvements from baseline were noted in emotional and mental QoL assessments in the intervention group that were not seen in the control group. Patients found it useful to have the living will and Five Wishes documents offered as part of the ARNP intervention.
An ARNP-directed intervention that explains the benefits of hospice and addresses advanced directives early in the course of metastatic cancer patients' treatment, is well received by the patients and their relatives and leads to measurable improvement in the patient's emotional and mental QoL.