The objective of palliative care is to improve the quality of life and reduce symptom burden, especially in patients nearing the end of life. This study aims to measure the association between the newly initiated palliative care with adult deaths from non-cancer and cancer illnesses.

This population-based cohort study was conducted in Ontario, Canada. It included 113,540 adults dying from cancer and non-cancer illness and were delivered palliative care in the last six months. The researchers used the linked health administrative data to directly match the patients’ cause of death, hospital frailty risk score, presence of metastatic cancer, and the propensity score to receive palliative care.

The researchers found that in patients dying from non-cancer illness (heart failure, stroke, and cirrhosis), palliative care was linked to a reduced rate of emergency department visits. However, in patients with dementia, palliative care was associated with an increased rate of emergency department visits and admissions to hospital.

The research highlighted the potential benefits of palliative care in some non-cancer illnesses. The increase in access to palliative care through models of collaborative palliative care could improve end-of-life care in patients with non-cancer diseases. However, palliative care has no association with cancer illnesses and some non-cancer conditions like dementia.