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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2017

A systematic review of prognostic factors at the end of life for people with a hematological malignancy

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2017
Elise Button, Raymond Javan Chan, Shirley Chambers, Jason Butler, Patsy Yates
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12885-017-3207-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Accurate prognosticating is needed when patients are nearing the end of life to ensure appropriate treatment decisions, and facilitate palliative care provision and transitioning to terminal care. People with a hematological malignancy characteristically experience a fluctuating illness trajectory leading to difficulties with prognosticating. The aim of this review was to identify current knowledge regarding ‘bedside’ prognostic factors in the final 3 months of life for people with a hematological malignancy associated with increased risk of mortality.


A systematic review of the literature was performed across: PubMed; CINAHL; PsycINFO; and Cochrane with set inclusion criteria: 1) prognostic cohort studies; 2) published 2004–2014; 3) sample ≥ 18 years; 4) >50% sample had a hematological malignancy; 5) reported ‘bedside’ prognostic factors; 6) median survival of <3 months; and 7) English language. Quality appraisal was performed using the Quality In Prognostic Studies (QUIPS) tool. Results are reported in line with PRISMA guidelines.


The search returned 4860 studies of which 28 met inclusion criteria. Twenty-four studies were rated moderate quality, three were high quality and one study was deemed to be of low quality. Most studies were set in the ICU (n = 24/28) and were retrospective (n = 25/28). Forty ‘bedside’ prognostic factors were identified as associated with increased risk of mortality encompassing the following broad categories: 1) demographics; 2) physiological complications or conditions; 3) disease characteristics; 4) laboratory blood values; and 5) interventions.


The literature on prognosticating in the final months of life was predominantly focused on people who had experienced acute physiological deterioration and were being treated aggressively in the in-patient setting. A significant gap in the literature exists for people who are treated less aggressively or are on a palliative trajectory. Findings did not report on, or confirm the significance of, many of the key prognostic factors associated with increased risk of mortality at the end of life in the solid tumour population, demonstrating key differences in the two populations.

Trial registration

This systematic review was not registered.
Additional file 1: Prognostic factors identified as associated with mortality. In Additional file 1, the findings for each prognostic factor are displayed for each study. If a prognostic factor was tested in a study, the results are reported for that factor (i.e. if the factor was significant and the direction of association). It is also recorded if results were not reported. (DOCX 29 kb)
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