Barriers to palliative and hospice care utilization in older adults with cancer: A systematic review

Jyotsana Parajuli, Aluem Tark, Ying Ling Jao, Judith Hupcey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The number of older adults with cancer and the need for palliative care among this population is increasing in the United States. The objective of this systematic review was to synthesize the evidence on the barriers to palliative and hospice care utilization in older adults with cancer. A systematic literature search was conducted using PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases (from inception to 2018) in accordance to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Research articles that examined palliative or hospice care utilization in older adults with cancer were included in this review. Fineout-Overholt's Level of Evidence was used for quality appraisal. A total of 19 studies were synthesized in this review. Barriers to palliative and hospice care utilization were categorized into socio-demographic barriers, provider-related barriers, and health insurance-related barriers. Findings revealed that male, racial minority, unmarried individuals, individuals with low socio-economic status or residing in rural areas, and fee-for-service enrollees were less likely to use palliative or hospice care. Lack of communication with care providers is also a barrier of using palliative or hospice care. The factors identified in this review provide guidance on identification of high-risk population and intervention development to facilitate the use of palliative and hospice care in older adults with cancer. Larger prospective studies on this topic are needed to address this critical issue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-16
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geriatric Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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