Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 November 2020
We performed a systematic literature review and meta-analysis measuring the burden of antibiotic use during end-of-life (EOL) care.
We searched PubMed, CINAHL (EBSCO platform), and Embase (Elsevier platform), through July 2019 for studies with the following inclusion criteria in the initial analysis: antibiotic use in the EOL care patients (advanced dementia, cancer, organ failure, frailty or multi-morbidity). If the number of patients in palliative care consultation (PCC) was available, antibiotic use data were pooled to compare the proportion of patients who received antibiotics under PCC compared to those not receiving PCC. Random-effect models were used to obtain pooled mean differences, and heterogeneity was assessed using the I2 value.
Overall, 72 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the final review: 22 EOL studies included only patients with cancer; 17 studies included only patients with advanced dementia; and 33 studies included “mixed populations” of EOL patients. Although few studies reported antibiotic using standard metrics (eg, days of therapy), 48 of 72 studies (66.7%) reported antibiotic use in >50% of all patients. When the 3 studies that evaluated antibiotic use in PCC were pooled together, patients under PCC was more likely to receive antibiotics compared to patients not under PCC (pooled odds ratio, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.02–2.93).
Future studies are needed to evaluate the benefits and harms of using antibiotics for patients during EOL care in diverse patient populations.