Purpose: To assess the association between aggressiveness of end-of-life (EOL) care and patient demographics, disease characteristics, primary physician's specialty, hospital characteristics, and availability of health care resources at the hospital and regional levels in Taiwan for a cohort of 210,976 cancer decedents in 2001 to 2006. Methods: This retrospective cohort study examined administrative data. Aggressiveness of EOL care was examined by a composite measure adapted from Earle et al. Scores range from 0 to 6, with higher scores indicating more aggressive EOL care. Results: The mean composite score for aggressiveness of EOL care was 2.04 (mean) ± 1.26 (standard deviation), increasing from 1.96 ± 1.26 in 2001 to 2.10 ± 1.26 in 2006. Each successive year of death significantly increased the composite score. Cancer decedents received more aggressive EOL care if they were male, younger, single, had a higher level of comorbidity, had more malignant and extensive diseases or hematologic malignancies, were cared for by oncologists, and received care in a hospital with a greater density of beds. Conclusion: Controlling for patient demographics and cormorbidity burden, EOL care in Taiwan was more aggressive for patients with cancer with highly malignant and extensive diseases, for patients with oncologists as primary care providers, or in hospitals with abundant health care resources. Health policies should aim to ensure that all patients receive treatments that best meet their individual needs and interests and that resources are devoted to care that produces the greatest health benefits.
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