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Family reports of end-of-life care among veterans in home-based primary care: The role of hospice.

Kinder D, Smith D, Ersek M, Wachterman M, Thorpe J, Davis D, Kutney-Lee A. Family reports of end-of-life care among veterans in home-based primary care: The role of hospice. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2022 Jan 1; 70(1):243-250.

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BACKGROUND: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)''s home-based primary care (HBPC) program provides coordinated, interdisciplinary care to seriously ill and disabled veterans, but few evaluations have considered end-of-life (EOL) care in this population. The aim of this study was to describe veterans'' use of community-based hospice services while enrolled in HBPC and their associations with bereaved families'' perceptions of care. METHODS: This study was a retrospective analysis of electronic medical record and bereaved family survey (BFS) data for veterans who died while enrolled in VA''s HBPC program between October 2013 and September 2019. Seven regional VA networks called Veteran Integrated Service Networks participated in BFS data collection. The final sample included 3967 veterans who were receiving HBPC services at the time of death and whose next-of-kin completed a BFS. The primary outcome was the BFS global rating of care received in the last 30?days of life. Adjusted proportions for all BFS outcomes were examined and compared between those who received community-based hospice services and those who did not. RESULTS: Overall, 52.6% of BFS respondents reported that the care received by HBPC-enrolled veterans in the last 30?days of life was excellent using the BFS global rating. Among families of HBPC-enrolled veterans who received community-based hospice services, the BFS global rating was roughly eight percentage points higher than those who did not (55.7 vs. 47.0%, p? < 0.001). On 12 of the 14 secondary BFS outcomes, veterans who received hospice scored higher than those who did not. CONCLUSIONS: Receipt of hospice services while enrolled in HBPC was associated with higher ratings of EOL care by bereaved family members. Integration of community hospice partners for qualifying veterans who are enrolled in the HBPC program represents a potential opportunity to improve the overall experience of EOL care for veterans and their families.

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