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Palliative Care and Documented Suicide: Association Among Veterans With High Mortality Risk.

Kutney-Lee A, Khazanov GK, Carpenter JG, Griffin H, Kinder D, Shreve ST, Smith D, Thorpe JM, Ersek M. Palliative Care and Documented Suicide: Association Among Veterans With High Mortality Risk. Journal of pain and symptom management. 2022 Aug 1; 64(2):e63-e69.

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CONTEXT: Palliative care consultations (PCCs) are associated with reduced physical and psychological symptoms that are related to suicide risk. Little is known, however, about the association between PCCs and death from suicide among patients at high risk of short-term mortality. OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between the number of PCCs and documentation of suicide in a cohort of Veterans at high risk of short-term mortality, before and after accounting for Veterans'' sociodemographic characteristics and clinical conditions. METHODS: An observational cohort study was conducted using linked Veterans Affairs clinical and administrative databases for 580,620 decedents with high risk of one-year mortality. Logistic regression models were used to examine the association between number of PCCs and documentation of suicide. RESULTS: Higher percentages of Veterans who died by suicide were diagnosed with chronic pulmonary disease as well as mental health/substance use conditions compared with Veterans who died from other causes. In adjusted models, one PCC in the 90 days prior to death was significantly associated with a 71% decrease in the odds of suicide (OR  =  0.29, 95% CI  =  0.23-0.37, P < 0.001) and two or more PCCs were associated with a 78% decrease (OR  =  0.22, 95% CI  =  0.15-0.33, P < 0.001). Associated "number needed to be exposed" estimates suggest that 421 Veterans in this population would need to receive at least one PCC to prevent one suicide. CONCLUSION: While acknowledging the importance of specialized mental health care in reducing suicide among high-risk patients, interventions delivered in the context of PCCs may also play a role.

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