Implementation of Specialist Palliative Care and Outcomes for Hospitalized Patients with Dementia

Deven Lackraj
Dio Kavalieratos
Komal P. Murali
Yewei Lu
May Hua
Peer-Reviewed Article
February 2021


Patients with dementia are more likely to be discharged to hospice from hospitals that offer specialist palliative care programs.


Dementia can lead to frequent hospital visits and high-intensity treatments that are both costly and associated with worse quality of care. In fact, 78 percent of patients with dementia are hospitalized within the last year of life, often leading to aggressive medical therapy regardless of the uncertainty of the benefit. Palliative care focuses on optimizing the quality of life for patients with serious illness and their families. Previous findings have indicated that patients receiving palliative care have a better quality of care and are less likely to have an acute hospitalization. Engagement in hospice for patients with advanced dementia can contribute to decreased hospitalization at the end of life, increased treatment for pain, and improved satisfaction with care.


This study reported that for patients with dementia, discharge to hospice from acute hospitalizations is infrequent. However, in hospitals with a palliative care program, patients were 35 percent more likely to be discharged to hospice care services. The findings indicate that the amount of hospice use for patients with dementia can be influenced by palliative care interventions. While teaching and non-teaching hospitals varied in the level of increased discharges to hospice centers for patients with dementia, both types of hospitals achieved statistically significant increases after implementing palliative care programs.


Implementing palliative care programs can positively impact care for patients with dementia by increasing hospital discharges to hospice centers.

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