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Home Health, Hospice Usage Assessed in Older Patients

Cancer patients access these services at significantly higher rates than non-cancer patients

MONDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Older cancer patients are significantly more likely to use home health services or hospice services than older non-cancer patients, according to a study published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Julie L. Locher, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues studied five analytical samples from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare Database: 120,072 cancer patients diagnosed from 1997 to 1999 and eligible for services in 1999 and sub-samples of 46,373 newly diagnosed cancer cases in 1999 and 41,483 patients who died that year; 160,707 cancer-free comparison subjects and a sub-sample of 6,639 who died in 1999.

The researchers found that home health services usage was 29 percent in cancer patients compared to 7.8 percent in non-cancer patients and that hospice usage was 10.7 percent in cancer patients compared to less than 1 percent in non-cancer patients.

"The real question that this study raises is: 'What is the appropriate utilization of community-based services for older adults with cancer?' This is an important issue that others have raised in reference to transitions of care for all patients residing in the community as they transfer between different locations or different care providers and different levels of care," the authors write.

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