Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 241–249 | Cite as

Predictive model of complexity in early palliative care: a cohort of advanced cancer patients (PALCOM study)

  • Albert TucaEmail author
  • Mónica Gómez-Martínez
  • Aleix Prat
Original Article



Model of early palliative care (PC) integrated in oncology is based on shared care from the diagnosis to the end of life and is mainly focused on patients with greater complexity. However, there is no definition or tools to evaluate PC complexity. The objectives of the study were to identify the factors influencing level determination of complexity, propose predictive models, and build a complexity scale of PC.

Patients and method

We performed a prospective, observational, multicenter study in a cohort of advanced cancer patients with an estimated prognosis ≤ 6 months. An ad hoc structured evaluation including socio-demographic and clinical data, symptom burden, functional and cognitive status, psychosocial problems, and existential-ethic dilemmas was recorded systematically. According to this multidimensional evaluation, investigator classified patients as high, medium, or low palliative complexity, associated to need of basic or specialized PC. Logistic regression was used to identify the variables influencing determination of level of PC complexity and explore predictive models.


We included 324 patients; 41% were classified as having high PC complexity and 42.9% as medium, both levels being associated with specialized PC. Variables influencing determination of PC complexity were as follows: high symptom burden (OR 3.19 95%CI: 1.72–6.17), difficult pain (OR 2.81 95%CI:1.64–4.9), functional status (OR 0.99 95%CI:0.98–0.9), and social-ethical existential risk factors (OR 3.11 95%CI:1.73–5.77). Logistic analysis of variables allowed construct a complexity model and structured scales (PALCOM 1 and 2) with high predictive value (AUC ROC 76%).


This study provides a new model and tools to assess complexity in palliative care, which may be very useful to manage referral to specialized PC services, and agree intensity of their intervention in a model of early-shared care integrated in oncology.


Palliative care Advanced cancer Complexity Early palliative care 


Acknowledgments of research support

We confirm and appreciate the participation as center investigators: Moya, Luis. Miguel Medical Oncology Department, Hospital Plató, Barcelona; Durany, Silvia. Centre Blauclinic Dolors Aleu, Barcelona; Feixas-Pascual, Josep Maria. Palliative Care Home Team, Sanitary Park Pere Virgili, Barcelona; Majó, Josep. Socio-Health Sanitary Park Pere Virgili, Barcelona; Martí, Dolors. Palliative Care Home Team, Mutuam Corts, Barcelona; Puig. Ania. Palliative Care Home Team, Mutuam Sants, Barcelona; Bricio, Laia. Palliative Care Home Team, Mutuam Eixample Esquerra, Barcelona; Casals, Teresa. Primary Care Center Adrià, Barcelona; Gonzalez Acosta, Eloina. Primary Care Center Via Roma, Barcelona; Martín Peñacoba, Raquel. Primary Care Center Sant Antoni, Barcelona; Burrull, Montserrat. Primary Care Center Carreras Candi, Barcelona; Del Valle, Mónica Cristina. Primary Care Center Montnegre, Barcelona; Garrell, Imma. Primary Care Center Compte Borrell, Barcelona; Gazquez, Isabel. Primary Care Center Carreras Candi, Barcelona; Gimferrer, Nuria. Primary Care Center Compte Borrell, Barcelona; Valls, Galdina. Palliative Care Department, Hospital Sagrat Cor, Barcelona.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical considerations

An information sheet was given to patients, and signed informed consent was required for inclusion in the study. A relative or legal representative of patients with cognitive deterioration impeding conprehension and acceptance of the study provided authorization for study inclusion. The Ethical Committee of Clinical Investigation at Hospital Clinic of Barcelona approved the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Supportive and Palliative Care in Cancer Unit, Medical Oncology DepartmentHospital Clínic de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Integrated Health Care Area Barcelona Esquerra, Strategy and Planning DepartmentHospital Clínic of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Medical Oncology DepartmentHospital Clínic of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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