The health economics of palliative care.

S. Kirk Payne, Patrick Coyne, Thomas J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Only a few studies have assessed the economic outcomes of palliative therapy. The major areas of interest include hospice care, the process and structure of care, symptom management, and palliative chemotherapy compared to best supportive care. Compared with nonhospice care, hospice care saves at best 3% of total care costs. Advance directives done early in the disease course may save end-of-life care costs, but when done in the hospital do not save money or influence care choices. Nurse coordination of palliative care maintained clinical outcomes of dying patients and saved 40% of costs. A structured ethics review of those likely to die in the intensive care unit also appears to match the type of care to the outcome, and save costs. There are remarkably few randomized clinical trials of pain and symptom control interventions in end-of-life care, so few conclusions can be drawn about current treatments. There are no examples of chemotherapy that save money compared to best supportive care. Current data suggest that changes in palliative care cost can only come from dramatic changes in how we provide care. One model is coordinated, expert, high-volume care that can prevent end-of-life hospitalization, with early use of advance directives. Preliminary data from our program support the hypothesis that costs may be reduced by 40% to 70%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-808; discussion 808, 811-812
JournalOncology (Williston Park, N.Y.)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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