POLST Registration and Associated Outcomes Among Veterans With Advanced-Stage Lung Cancer

Shannon M. Nugent, Christopher G. Slatore, Linda Ganzini, Sara E. Golden, Dana Zive, Kelly C. Vranas, Donald Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: The Oregon Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Program allows patients with advanced illness to document end-of-life (EOL) care preferences. We examined the characteristics and associated EOL care among Veterans with and without a registered POLST. Methods: Retrospective, cohort study of advanced-stage (IIIB and IV) patients with lung cancer who were diagnosed between 2008 and 2013 as recorded in the VA Central Cancer Registry. We examined a subgroup of 346 Oregon residents. We obtained clinical and sociodemographic variables from the VA Corporate Data Warehouse and EOL preferences from the Oregon POLST Registry. We compared hospice enrollment and place of death between those with and without a registered POLST. Results: Twenty-two (n = 77) percent of our cohort had registered POLST forms. Compared to those without a registered POLST, Veterans with a POLST had a higher income ($51 456 vs $48 882) and longer time between diagnosis and death (223 days vs 119 days). Those with a registered POLST were more likely to be enrolled in hospice (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 2.37, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.01-5.54) and less likely to die in a VA facility (aOR = 0.27, 95% CI: 0.12-0.59). Conclusion: There was low submission to the POLST Registry among Veterans who received care in Veterans’ Health Administration. Veterans who had a registered POLST were more likely to be enrolled in hospice and less likely to die in a VA care setting. The POLST may improve metrics of high-quality EOL care; however, opportunities for improvement in submission and implementation within the VA exist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • advance care planning
  • EOL care
  • hospice enrollment
  • location of death
  • lung cancer
  • palliative care
  • physician orders for life-sustaining treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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