Variation in the use of palliative radiotherapy at end of life: Examining demographic, clinical, health service, and geographic factors in a population-based study

Palliative Medicine 2011 25(2): 101-110 (Editor's Choice)

Palliative radiotherapy (PRT) can improve quality of life for people dying of cancer. Variation in the delivery of PRT by factors unrelated to need may indicate that not all patients who may benefit from PRT receive it. In this study, 13,494 adults who died of cancer between 2000 and 2005 in Nova Scotia, Canada, were linked to radiotherapy records. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the relationships among demographic, clinical, service, and geographic variables, and PRT consultation and treatment. Among the decedents, 4188 (31.0%) received PRT consultation and 3032 (22.3%) treatment. PRT declined with increased travel time and community deprivation. Females, older persons, and nursing home residents also had lower PRT rates. Variations were observed by cancer site and previous oncology care. Variations in PRTuse should be discussed with referring physicians, and improved means of access to PRT considered. Benchmarks for optimal rates of PRT are needed.


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