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Developing quality indicators for cancer end-of-life care: proceedings from a national symposium.

Seow H, Snyder CF, Shugarman LR, Mularski RA, Kutner JS, Lorenz KA, Wu AW, Dy SM. Developing quality indicators for cancer end-of-life care: proceedings from a national symposium. Cancer. 2009 Sep 1; 115(17):3820-9.

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Quality indicators applicable to cancer end-of-life care exist, but have not been widely implemented. To advance this field, the authors worked with the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality and the National Cancer Institute to organize a national symposium to discuss key issues and future goals, based on a conceptual framework. Discussions focused on 8 key domains in end-of-life cancer care: pain; dyspnea; communication, care planning, and decision making; psychosocial care; communication about chemotherapy; depression; continuity, coordination, and care transitions; and spirituality and closure. Key themes included the need for clarity on definitions and key aspects of care within domains, the need to start implementing indicators in more developed domains, and the importance of high-quality symptom assessment and documentation of key processes. Key areas for future work include development of more outcome indicators, methods to better incorporate indicators and patient-reported outcomes into clinical processes of care, and coordination across domains and settings. Measuring the quality of end-of-life cancer care is essential to understanding how best to improve patient outcomes and care.

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