Purpose: Patterns of aggressive end-of-life (EOL) care have not been extensively explored in a pediatric cancer population, especially outside Western countries. The purpose of this population-based study was to examine trends in aggressive pediatric EOL cancer care in Taiwan. Methods: Retrospective cohort study that used administrative data among 1,208 pediatric cancer decedents from 2001 through 2006. Results: Taiwanese pediatric cancer patients who died in 2001 through 2006 received aggressive EOL care. The majority of these patients in their last month of life continued to receive chemotherapy (52.5%), used intensive care (57.0%), underwent intubation (40.9%), underwent mechanical ventilation (48.2%), or spent greater than 14 days (69.5%) in hospital, and they died in an acute care hospital (78.8%). Of these pediatric cancer patients, one in four received cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the month before they died, and only 7.2% received hospice care. Among those who received hospice care, 21.8% started such care within the last 3 days of life. This pattern of aggressive EOL care did not change over the study period except for significantly decreased intubation in the last month of life. Conclusion: Continued chemotherapy and heavy use of life-sustaining treatments in the last month of life coupled with lack of hospice care to support Taiwanese pediatric cancer patients dying at home may lead to multiple unplanned health care encounters, prolonged hospitalization at EOL, and eventual death in an acute care hospital for the majority of these patients. Future research should design interventions that enable Taiwanese pediatric cancer patients to receive EOL care that best meets the individual or the parental needs and preferences.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research