Implementation of Specialist Palliative Care and Outcomes for Hospitalized Patients with Dementia

Deven Lackraj, Dio Kavalieratos, Komal P. Murali, Yewei Lu, May Hua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In patients with serious illness, use of specialist palliative care may result in improved quality of life, patient and caregiver satisfaction and advance care planning, as well as lower health care utilization. However, evidence of efficacy is limited for patients with dementia, particularly in the setting of an acute hospitalization. Objective: To determine whether implementation of hospital-based specialist palliative care was associated with differences in treatment intensity outcomes for hospitalized patients with dementia. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting: Fifty-one hospitals in New York State that either did or did not implement a palliative care program between 2008 and 2014. Hospitals that consistently had a palliative care program during the study period were excluded. Participants: Hospitalized patients with dementia. Measurements: The primary outcome of this study was discharge to hospice from an acute hospitalization. Secondary outcomes included hospital length of stay, use of mechanical ventilation and dialysis, and days in intensive care. Difference-in-difference analyses were performed using multilevel regression to assess the association between implementing a palliative care program and outcomes, while adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics and time trends. Results: During the study period, 82,118 patients with dementia (mean (SD) age, 83.04 (10.04), 51,170 (62.21%) female) underwent an acute hospitalization, of which 41,227 (50.27%) received care in hospitals that implemented a palliative care program. In comparison to patients who received care in hospitals without palliative care, patients with dementia who received care in hospitals after the implementation of palliative care were more 35% likely to be discharged to hospice (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.35 (1.19–1.51), P <.001). No meaningful differences in secondary outcomes were observed. Conclusion: Implementation of a specialist palliative care program was associated with an increase in discharge to hospice following acute hospitalization in patients with dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1199-1207
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • dementia
  • hospice
  • hospitalization
  • palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Implementation of Specialist Palliative Care and Outcomes for Hospitalized Patients with Dementia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this