Disparities in Referrals to End-of-Life Care in Eligible Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Digestive diseases and sciences


BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is a malignancy with increasing incidence and morbidity. For patients with a poor prognosis, engagement with advanced care planning and end-of life (EOL) services (I.e., palliative care, hospice) can address physical, financial, and social complications of a terminal diagnosis. Minimal data exist on the demographics of the patients being referred to and enrolling in EOL services for HCC.

AIMS: We aim to report the relationship between demographics and EOL service referral.

METHODS: Retrospective review of a prospectively maintained high-volume liver center registry of patients diagnosed with HCC from 2004 to 2022. EOL services eligible patients were defined as BCLC stage C or D, evidence of metastases, and/or transplant ineligible.

RESULTS: Black patients were more likely to be referred than white patients (OR 1.47 (1.03, 2.11)). Once referred, patients were significantly more likely to be enrolled if they had insurance coverage, though no other factors in models were significant. There were no significant differences in survival among those referred who did or did not enroll, after controlling for other factors.

CONCLUSION: Black patients were more likely to be referred compared to white patients and patients who were insured were more likely to be enrolled. Whether this is indicative of black patients being appropriately referred at a higher rate, being offered EOL care instead of aggressive treatment, or other unknown factors warrants further study.

Medical Subject Headings

Humans; Carcinoma, Hepatocellular; Liver Neoplasms; Terminal Care; Hospice Care; Palliative Care; Retrospective Studies; Referral and Consultation

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print





First Page


Last Page