Regional variation in hospital care at the end-of-life of Dutch patients with lung cancer exists and is not correlated with primary and long-term care

Yvonne de Man, Stef Groenewoud, Mariska G. Oosterveld-Vlug, Linda Brom, Bregje D. Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Gert P. Westert, Femke Atsma

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Objective: To examine the regional variation in hospital care utilization in the last 6 months of life of Dutch patients with lung cancer and to test whether higher degrees of hospital utilization coincide with less general practitioner (GP) and long-term care use. Design: Cross-sectional claims data study. Setting: The Netherlands. Participants: Patients deceased in 2013-2015 with lung cancer (N = 25 553). Main Outcome Measures: We calculated regional medical practice variation scores, adjusted for age, gender and socioeconomic status, for radiotherapy, chemotherapy, CT-scans, emergency room contacts and hospital admission days during the last 6 months of life; Spearman Rank correlation coefficients measured the association between the adjusted regional medical practice variation scores for hospital admissions and ER contacts and GP and long-term care utilization. Results: The utilization of hospital services in high-using regions is 2.3-3.6 times higher than in low-using regions. The variation was highest in 2015 and lowest in 2013. For all 3 years, hospital care was not significantly correlated with out-of-hospital care at a regional level. Conclusions: Hospital care utilization during the last 6 months of life of patients with lung cancer shows regional medical practice variation over the course of multiple years and seems to increase. Higher healthcare utilization in hospitals does not seem to be associated with less intensive GP and long-term care. In-depth research is needed to explore the causes of the variation and its relation to quality of care provided at the level of daily practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-195
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Cancer
  • Health policy
  • Health services research
  • Hospital medicine
  • Practice variations
  • Primary care
  • Quality improvement

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