Indexed on: 11 Dec '07Published on: 11 Dec '07Published in: Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
Engagement in advance care planning (ACP) is viewed as a way to prepare for possible death. In patients undergoing hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT), an aggressive but possibly curative procedure for cancer, encouraging engagement in ACP is difficult. We conducted this analysis to determine if engagement in ACP among patients who undergo HSCT is associated with adverse outcomes.Adult patients who were undergoing their first HSCT for hematologic malignancies between 2001 and 2003 were included. ACP was defined as having a living will, a power of attorney for health care, or life-support instructions. Outcomes assessed included the length of hospital stay, in-hospital mortality, and overall survival.Of the 343 patients, 172 did not have ACP, whereas 171 did have ACP, and 127 of those were reviewable. Of those with reviewable ACP, 28 patients (22%) completed ACP before cancer diagnosis, 87 (68%) completed ACP after the cancer diagnosis but before HSCT, and 12 (10%) engaged in ACP after HSCT. Patients without ACP before HSCT had a significantly greater risk of death compared with patients with ACP (hazard ratio, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.34 to 3.33; P = .001) while adjusting for statistically significant factors.Our study demonstrated that lack of engagement in ACP is associated with adverse outcomes after HSCT. Thus, the patients least likely to have planned for poor outcomes are the ones most likely to face them. Additional studies should evaluate the nature of this association and should seek modifiable explanatory factors that could be the target of interventions.