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Wan S, Lorenz KA, Fischer SM, Liao S, Lee MC, Kutner JS. Local Area Hospice Capacity and Rural Disparities in Hospice Use among Older Adults with Metastatic Breast Cancer. Journal of palliative medicine. 2023 Feb 1; 26(2):182-190.
Little is known about how local area hospice capacity and staffing levels impact hospice use in urban versus rural areas. To examine the association between local hospice capacity and staffing levels and hospice use in the context of rural disparities in hospice use, among a sample of patients with metastatic breast cancer. A retrospective cohort study using Surveillance Epidemiology End-Results (SEER)-Medicare linked data 2000-2010, Medicare Provider of Service files, and Census 2000 U.S. Zip Code Tabulation Areas files. Use of Medicare-certified hospice programs among older adults with metastatic breast cancer residing in one of the SEER program cancer registries designated by National Cancer Institute in the United States. Measurements of geographic access to hospices include urban/rural characteristics of patient residence and driving time from the nearest Medicare-certified hospice headquarter. Measurements of local-area hospice capacity and staffing levels include per capita number of Medicare-certified hospice programs and full-time employees among older adults within a predefined radius. Among the study population (? = 5418), remote and suburban areas were negatively associated with hospice use. Lower hospice use in remote and suburban areas was associated with fewer per capita number of Medicare-certified hospice program employees in local areas = 70-minute driving radius ? = 0.0042), while per capita number of Medicare-certified hospice programs in local areas showed no impact. For older patients with metastatic breast cancer, availability of hospice staff, rather than driving distance or the number of hospice agencies, may limit hospice use in remote and suburban areas.