Social Support Important for Patients with Aggressive Hematologic Malignancies

Patients with aggressive hematologic malignancies who lack social support have poorer overall survival (OS) and increased healthcare utilization, researchers concluded in a study presented during the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting.

Data were collected from a prospective longitudinal cohort study of 251 patients hospitalized with aggressive hematologic malignancies at Massachusetts General Hospital from 2014 through 2017. Natural Language Processing (NLP) was used to determine the extent of patients’ social support. Researchers evaluated associations between social support and OS, death or readmission within 90 days of discharge from index hospitalization, time to readmission within 90 days, and index hospitalization length of stay (LOS).

The median age was 64 years, and patients were mostly white (89.6%), male (68.9%), and married (65.3%). Leukemia was the most common diagnosis (42.2%), followed by lymphoma (37.9%) and myelodysplastic syndrome/myeloproliferative neoplasm (19.9%).

Per NLP, the researchers found that 8.8% of patients had limited social support, which was correlated with worse OS and higher likelihood of death or readmission within 90 days of discharge. However, limited social support did not affect time to readmission within 90 days or index hospital LOS.

“These findings underscore the utility of NLP for evaluating extent of social support and the need for larger studies evaluating social support in patients with aggressive hematologic malignancies,” the study authors concluded.