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Association between physicians' geriatric training and patterns of end-of-life care delivered to persons with dementia.
Gotanda H, Zhang JJ, Reuben DB, Walling AM, Xu H, Jena AB, Gross N, Tsugawa Y. Association between physicians' geriatric training and patterns of end-of-life care delivered to persons with dementia. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2023 Jul 20.
Geriatric training is designed to prepare physicians to meet the complex needs of older adults, including persons with dementia at the end-of-life (EOL) stage. We sought to compare patterns of EOL care delivered to persons with dementia between physicians with versus without geriatric training.
We conducted a cross-sectional study of a 20% random sample of fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with dementia who died in 2016-2018 (n = 99,631). We attributed beneficiaries to a physician who had the largest number of primary care visits during the last 6 months of life and determined whether the physician was trained in geriatrics. Our outcome measures included: (i) advance care planning (ACP) and palliative care (e.g., ACP, hospice enrollment in the last 90 days of life), and (ii) high-intensity EOL care (e.g., emergency department visits or hospital admissions in the last 30 days of life).
Beneficiaries with dementia under the care of physicians with geriatric training had a higher proportion of ACP (adjusted proportion, 15.8% vs. 13.0%; p < 0.001 after accounting for multiple comparisons), palliative care counseling (22.4% vs. 20.9%; p = 0.01), and hospice enrollment (63.7% vs. 60.6%; p < 0.001). Geriatric training was also associated with a lower proportion of emergency department visits (55.1% vs. 59.1%; p < 0.001), hospital admissions (48.8% vs. 52.3%; p < 0.001), ICU admissions (24.9% vs. 27.4%; p < 0.001), use of mechanical ventilation (11.2% vs. 13.0%; p < 0.001), and use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (2.1% vs. 2.4%; p = 0.03) in the last 30 days of life. There was no evidence that the placement of feeding tubes differed between the two groups.
Physicians' geriatric training was associated with the receipt of more ACP and palliative care and less intensive EOL care among persons with dementia. Provision of geriatric training for physicians may have the potential to improve the quality of EOL care delivered to persons with dementia.