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Palliat Med. 1998 Jul;12(4):279-86.

How do cancer patients who die at home differ from those who die elsewhere?

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College, London, UK.


Our objective was to investigate how cancer patients who die at home differ from those who do not. A postbereavement survey of 229 people who registered the death of a random sample of cancer deaths in an inner London health authority was conducted. It was found that a fifth of patients (21%) died in their own home. Overall, 38% were reported to have expressed a preference for place of death, 73% of whom wanted to die at home. Only 58% achieved this. Having special equipment and stating a preference for place of death was associated with an increased likelihood of dying at home; using social and health services for social care was associated with a decreased likelihood of so doing. It was concluded that, as in previous studies, most patients who expressed a preference wanted a home death, but nearly half did not achieve this. Recognition of a preference for home death, providing the motivation to 'stick it out' at home, and adequate community support to provide the practical means to fulfil the preference, appear to be crucial in the achievement of a home death for all who desire it.

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