Effectiveness of Integrated Palliative and Oncology Care for Patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Areej El-Jawahri, Thomas W. Leblanc, Alison Kavanaugh, Jason A. Webb, Vicki A. Jackson, Toby C. Campbell, Nina O'Connor, Selina M. Luger, Ellin Gafford, Jillian Gustin, Bhavana Bhatnagar, Alison R. Walker, Amir T. Fathi, Andrew M. Brunner, Gabriela S. Hobbs, Showly Nicholson, Debra Davis, Hilena Addis, Dagny Vaughn, Nora HorickJoseph A. Greer, Jennifer S. Temel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Importance: Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) receiving intensive chemotherapy experience substantial decline in their quality of life (QOL) and mood during their hospitalization for induction chemotherapy and often receive aggressive care at the end of life (EOL). However, the role of specialty palliative care for improving the QOL and care for this population is currently unknown. Objective: To assess the effect of integrated palliative and oncology care (IPC) on patient-reported and EOL outcomes in patients with AML. Design, Setting, and Participants: We conducted a multisite randomized clinical trial of IPC (n = 86) vs usual care (UC) (n = 74) for patients with AML undergoing intensive chemotherapy. Data were collected from January 2017 through July 2019 at 4 tertiary care academic hospitals in the United States. Interventions: Patients assigned to IPC were seen by palliative care clinicians at least twice per week during their initial and subsequent hospitalizations. Main Outcomes and Measures: Patients completed the 44-item Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Leukemia scale (score range, 0-176) to assess QOL; the 14-item Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), with subscales assessing symptoms of anxiety and depression (score range, 0-21); and the PTSD Checklist-Civilian version to assess posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms (score range, 17-85) at baseline and weeks 2, 4, 12, and 24. The primary end point was QOL at week 2. We used analysis of covariance adjusting and mixed linear effect models to evaluate patient-reported outcomes. We used Fisher exact test to compare patient-reported discussion of EOL care preferences and receipt of chemotherapy in the last 30 days of life. Results: Of 235 eligible patients, 160 (68.1%) were enrolled; of the 160 participants, the median (range) age was 64.4 (19.7-80.1) years, and 64 (40.0%) were women. Compared with those receiving UC, IPC participants reported better QOL (adjusted mean score, 107.59 vs 116.45; P =.04), and lower depression (adjusted mean score, 7.20 vs 5.68; P =.02), anxiety (adjusted mean score, 5.94 vs 4.53; P =.02), and PTSD symptoms (adjusted mean score, 31.69 vs 27.79; P =.01) at week 2. Intervention effects were sustained to week 24 for QOL (β, 2.35; 95% CI, 0.02-4.68; P =.048), depression (β,-0.42; 95% CI,-0.82 to-0.02; P =.04), anxiety (β,-0.38; 95% CI,-0.75 to-0.01; P =.04), and PTSD symptoms (β,-1.43; 95% CI,-2.34 to-0.54; P =.002). Among patients who died, those receiving IPC were more likely than those receiving UC to report discussing EOL care preferences (21 of 28 [75.0%] vs 12 of 30 [40.0%]; P =.01) and less likely to receive chemotherapy near EOL (15 of 43 [34.9%] vs 27 of 41 [65.9%]; P =.01). Conclusions and Relevance: In this randomized clinical trial of patients with AML, IPC led to substantial improvements in QOL, psychological distress, and EOL care. Palliative care should be considered a new standard of care for patients with AML. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02975869.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-245
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Effectiveness of Integrated Palliative and Oncology Care for Patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia: A Randomized Clinical Trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this