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Public Health. 2000 Jan;114(1):15-20.

Geographical variations of place of death among Italian communities suggest an inappropriate hospital use in the terminal phase of cancer disease.

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Unit of Clinical Epidemiology and Trials, National Cancer Institute, Genova, Italy.


This study aimed to assess geographic variations of place of death among Italian communities, to investigate the determinants of home death, and to examine trends in the proportion of home deaths over a period of 8 y. A cross-sectional analysis was performed on 13 provinces from two Italian regions (Liguria and Toscana), and the geographic variations and determinants of home death were studied for the 17,597 residents, who died of cancer in 1991. Trends for both the regions of the proportion of home deaths were examined for the period 1987 and 1995. A remarkable heterogeneity in the observed proportion of home deaths among the 13 provinces was observed, ranging between 31.4 and 40.4% in Liguria and between 37.7 and 73.3% in Toscana. The estimated proportion of home deaths after adjustment for age, gender, marital status, education, place of birth, characteristics of the living area, and cancer site remained substantially the same. The proportion of home deaths significantly increased with increasing age, and years of education. It was higher among females, married and widowed patients, native patients, and for residents in a semi-urban or rural areas. A significant decrease in the percentage of patients who died at home between 1987 and 1995 in both regions was observed. The wide geographical and social differences observed between and within the communities for the frequency of home deaths are not explained by the distribution of known determinants, and possibly suggest patterns of inappropriate hospital admissions in the terminal phase of disease.

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