Document Type


Publication Date



Radiation Oncology


Background—Early palliative/supportive care (PSC) consultation and advance care planning (ACP) improve outcomes for patients with incurable cancer. However, PSC is underutilized in the United States. Objective—To examine philosophical differences among PSC, radiation oncology (RO), and medical oncology (MO) physicians in order to understand barriers to early PSC referral. Design—An electronic survey collected views of a nationwide cohort of health-care professionals regarding ACP and end-of-life care. Setting/Participants/Measurements—A subgroup analysis compared the responses from all 51 PSC, 178 RO, and 81 MO physician participants (12% response rate), using Pearson χ2 and Mann-Whitney U tests for categorical and ordinal data, respectively. Results—More statistically significant differences were observed between RO-PSC (12 questions) and MO-PSC (12 questions) than RO-MO (4 questions). Both RO and MO were more likely than PSC physicians to believe doctors adequately care for emotional (P < .001) and physical (P < .001) needs of patients with an incurable illness. Both RO and MO were also less likely to believe that PSC physicians were helpful at addressing these needs (P = .002 and < .001) or MO (P = .004). MO favored later initiation of ACP than either RO (P = .006) or PSC physicians (P = .004).Conclusions—Differences in perception of appropriate end-of-life care exist between oncologists and PSC physicians, suggesting a need for improved education and communication between these groups.

Source Citation

Pifer PM, Farrugia MK, Mattes MD. Comparative Analysis of the Views of Oncologic Subspecialists and Palliative/Supportive Care Physicians Regarding Advanced Care Planning and End-of-Life Care. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine®. 2018;35(10):1287-1291. doi:10.1177/1049909118763592