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Singapore Med J. 1998 Oct;39(10):447-50.

Preferred place of death--a local study of cancer patients and their relatives.

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Department of Geriatric Medicine, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore.



Knowing the preferred place of terminal care is helpful in the provision of services for the terminally ill. We carried out a survey of cancer in-patients and their relatives to determine the local preference for place of terminal care as well as the factors that affected their choice.


The study was conducted in the form of an interview survey on patients admitted to a general medical unit and a geriatric medicine unit. Relatives approached were the nearest kin (first degree relatives), or relatives living with the patients. Patients who were not aware of their diagnosis, who were unable to comprehend the questionnaire, or were too ill to participate were not interviewed.


Fifty-two percent (23/44) of interviewed patients preferred to die at home if possible (compared to 34%, 15/44, who preferred the hospital). This is particularly so in the elderly and if there is assurance of domiciliary care. Relatives have an almost equal preference for the patient to be at home (45%, 35/77) or in the hospital (42%, 32/77) terminally. Given the support, more (37.5%, 12/32) of those who initially wanted their sick relatives to be in hospital would prefer them to spend their last days at home.


There is a greater preference in cancer patients for terminal care at home. This is especially so for the elderly and if there is assurance of domiciliary care. This is an impetus for greater support of home care services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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