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Palliat Med. 2019 Aug 1:269216319866648. doi: 10.1177/0269216319866648. [Epub ahead of print]

Hospitalizations of nursing home residents at the end of life: A systematic review.

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Department of Health Services Research, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany.



End-of-life hospitalizations in nursing home residents are common, although they are often burdensome and potentially avoidable.


We aimed to summarize the existing evidence on end-of-life hospitalizations in nursing home residents.


Systematic review (PROSPERO registration number CRD42017072276).


A systematic literature search was carried out in PubMed, CINAHL, and Scopus (date of search 9 April 2019). Studies were included if they reported proportions of in-hospital deaths or hospitalizations of nursing home residents in the last month of life. Two authors independently selected studies, extracted data, and assessed the quality of studies. Median with interquartile range was used to summarize proportions.


A total of 35 studies were identified, more than half of which were from the United States (n = 18). While 29 studies reported in-hospital deaths, 12 studies examined hospitalizations during the last month of life. The proportion of in-hospital deaths varied markedly between 5.9% and 77.1%, with an overall median of 22.6% (interquartile range: 16.3%-29.5%). The proportion of residents being hospitalized during the last month of life ranged from 25.5% to 69.7%, and the median was 33.2% (interquartile range: 30.8%-38.4%). Most studies investigating the influence of age found that younger age was associated with a higher likelihood of end-of-life hospitalization. Four studies assessed trends over time, showing heterogeneous findings.


There is a wide variation in end-of-life hospitalizations, even between studies from the same country. Overall, such hospitalizations are common among nursing home residents, which indicates that interventions tailored to each specific health care system are needed to improve end-of-life care.


Hospitalization; end of life; in-hospital death; nursing home; systematic review


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