Fox Chase Researchers Present Data on Integrating Palliative Care Education Into Hematology-Oncology Fellowships

Dr Bauman
In a study presented today at the 2024 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting Jessica Bauman, MD, Chief of the Division of Head and Neck Medical Oncology at Fox Chase, found that a new integrated palliative care rotation for hematology/oncology fellows improved their palliative care knowledge and skill confidence.

PHILADELPHIA (June 3, 2024) — A new integrated palliative care rotation for hematology/oncology fellows improved their palliative care knowledge and skill confidence, according to results of a pilot study presented today by Fox Chase Cancer Center researchers at the 2024 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. 

Palliative care is often provided to patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease to improve their quality of life and help reduce pain. 

“Despite national guidelines advocating that patients with advanced cancer receive dedicated palliative care services, many patients lack access to specialty palliative care due to workforce shortages,” said Jessica Bauman, MD, lead author on the study and Chief of the Division of Head and Neck Medical Oncology and an Associate Professor in the Department of Hematology/Oncology at Fox Chase. 

“Training hematologists/oncologists to provide primary palliative care could close this gap and ensure basic palliative care needs of patients are met,” added Bauman, who is also the director of the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Training Program at Fox Chase. She conducted the study with researchers at Fox Chase and other institutions. 

During the pilot study, hematology/oncology fellows identified patients with palliative care needs from their hematology/oncology practice and referred them to a palliative care clinic over a period of six months. Fellows then saw those patients in the palliative care clinic, as well as in the hematology/oncology clinic and during hospitalizations. During these visits, fellows were accompanied by attending physicians. 

“These visits were all tracked, and fellows were surveyed before and after their rotations to evaluate their skill confidence and knowledge. After the rotation, they were also surveyed on acceptability and teaching quality,” said Bauman. 

From 2018 through 2023, 19 fellows from three hematology/oncology fellowship classes participated. Of 17 fellows who rated acceptability, 16 rated the rotation as valuable or extremely valuable, while 15 agreed or strongly agreed the rotation structure was effective. Seventeen fellows agreed or strongly agreed the rotation both changed their clinical practice and helped them feel more engaged in working with their sickest patients. 

“The pilot program showed that participating in this rotation changed clinical practice and improved the palliative care knowledge and skill confidence of fellows,” said Bauman. “Having seen these results, we believe this pilot could serve as a model for integrating palliative care education into hematology/oncology fellowships nationally.” 

The study, “A Longitudinal, Palliative Care Educational Pilot in Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Training,” was presented as an oral abstract at the ASCO meeting, which is being held May 31-June 4 in Chicago.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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