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Acute Care Use Increased for Cancer Patients With Higher Symptom Complexity

Cancer patients with higher symptom complexity have higher odds of having emergency department visit or hospital admission

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 2, 2023 (HealthDay News) — For patients with cancer, those with higher symptom complexity scores are more likely to use acute care, according to a study published in the February issue of the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Linda Watson, R.N., Ph.D., from Cancer Care Alberta in Calgary, Canada, and colleagues used a novel patient-reported outcomes (PROs)-derived symptom complexity algorithm to examine the factors of patients with cancer who use acute care in a retrospective observational cohort study. Data were included for 29,133 patients with cancer in Alberta, Canada, who completed at least one PRO symptom-reporting questionnaire between Oct. 1, 2019, and April 1, 2020. The algorithm used ratings for nine symptoms and assigned a low, medium, or high complexity score.

The researchers found that 738 patients had an emergency department visit and 452 had hospital admission within seven days of completing the PRO questionnaire. Compared with low-complexity patients, patients with high symptom complexity had significantly higher odds of having an emergency department visit or hospital admission (odds ratios, 3.10 and 4.20, respectively), after controlling for demographic covariates.

“Using PROs in this way, by identifying patients in need of more comprehensive care and symptom management, can aid in improving patient experiences, and can contribute to mitigation of the economic impact of seeking care in the acute health care system,” the authors write.

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