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Ann Oncol. 2011 Sep;22(9):2113-20. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdq719. Epub 2011 Feb 9.

Late referrals to home palliative care service affecting death at home in advanced cancer patients in Japan: a nationwide survey.

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Department of Community Health Nursing, Graduate School of Nursing, The Japanese Red Cross University, Tokyo, Japan.



To identify factors influencing place of death among home palliative care patients with advanced cancer, focusing on the timing of referrals from hospital to home care settings.


A cross-sectional nationwide questionnaire survey was conducted on home palliative care patients at 1000 randomly selected home care agencies in Japan. A total of 568 responses were analyzed (effective response rate, 69%).


Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that (i) predischarge health care supports in hospital (e.g. early referral 8 days or more before discharge; clear explanation by hospital staffs to patients and families regarding discharge to live and die at home) and (ii) postdischarge health care supports after transferring home care (e.g. signing a 24-h support insurance contract of network between primary physician and nurse as a home palliative care team; primary nurse consultation with primary physician >3 times during the first week after discharge) have an effect on place of death among home palliative care patients.


An early and carefully coordinated referral support system for smooth discharge by hospital staffs as well as intensive and highly qualified support just after discharge by the home care team would help to increase the number of patients who could die at home.

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