BACKGROUND: Elderly patients with gastrointestinal cancer and mental illness have significant comorbidities that can impact the quality of their care. We investigated the relationship between mental illness and frequent emergency department (ED) use in the last month of life, an indicator for poor end-of-life care quality, among elderly patients with gastrointestinal cancers.METHODS: We used SEER-Medicare data to identify decedents with gastrointestinal cancers who were diagnosed between 2004 and 2013 and were at least 66years old at time of diagnosis (median age: 80years, range: 66-117years). We evaluated the association between having a diagnosis of depression, bipolar disorders, psychotic disorders, anxiety, dementia, and/or substance use disorders and ED use in the last 30days of life using logistic regression models.RESULTS: Of 160,367 patients included, 54,661 (34.1%) had a mental illness diagnosis between one year prior to cancer diagnosis and death. Patients with mental illness were more likely to have>1 ED visit in the last 30days of life (15.6% vs. 13.3%, p<0.01). ED use was highest among patients with substance use (17.7%), bipolar (16.5%), and anxiety disorders (16.4%). Patients with mental illness who were male, younger, non-white, residing in lower income areas, and with higher comorbidity were more likely to have multiple end-of-life ED visits. Patients who received outpatient treatment from a mental health professional were less likely to have multiple end-of-life ED visits (adjusted odds ratio 0.82, 95% confidence interval 0.78-0.87).CONCLUSIONS: In elderly patients with gastrointestinal cancers, mental illness is associated with having multiple end-of-life ED visits. Increasing access to mental health services may improve quality of end-of-life care in this vulnerable population.
View details for DOI 10.1002/cam4.3792
View details for PubMedID 33621438