Palliative care needs of cancer patients in U.S. nursing homes

Vanessa M.P. Johnson, Joan M. Teno, Meg Bourbonniere, Vincent Mor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Background: Increasingly, nursing homes are the place of care for older Americans with cancer. Yet, few studies has characterized the quality of care for this growing population. Objective: Characterize the scope and quality of cancer care in U.S. nursing homes. Design: Secondary analysis of the national repository of the Minimum Data Set (MDS) Setting and Subjects: Nursing home residents noted to have cancer diagnosis on the MDS. Results: Of the 190,769 New Hampshire residents (8.8%) with a cancer diagnosis, 1 in 4 had weight loss (23.4%), received intravenous medications (27.7%), or used oxygen (25.4%). Overall, 45.3% had a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, with state variations ranging from 17.8% (New Jersey) to 70.5% (Wisconsin). More than 1 in 10 (12.0%) were defined as terminally ill, although only 29.3% of these received hospice services. Among patients with pain, half of those who survived to a second assessment had persistent, severe pain (51.3%), which also varied by state, ranging from 43.3% (Iowa) to 65.8% (Nevada). Active treatment was rare; less than 5% received chemotherapy or radiotherapy. However, 15.5% had parenteral and/or tube feedings for nutrition. Approximately, 1 in 10 New Hampshire residents had advanced cancer. Conclusion: Our findings suggest important opportunities to improve the quality of cancer care for older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-279
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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