Insights into the factors associated with achieving the preference of home death in terminal cancer: A national population-based study

Finian Bannon, Victoria Cairnduff, Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Janine Blaney, Barbara Gomes, Anna Gavin, Conan Donnelly

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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ABSTRACT Objectives:Most terminally ill cancer patients prefer to die at home, yet only a minority are able to achieve this. Our aim was to investigate the factors associated with cancer patients achieving their preference to die at home.

METHODS: This study took the form of a mortality followback, population-based, observational survey of the relatives of deceased cancer patients in Northern Ireland. Individuals who registered the death of a friend or relative (aged ≥ 18 years) between 1 December 2011 and 31 May 2012, where the primary cause of death was cancer (ICD10: C00-D48), who were invited to take part. Preferred and actual place of death, and patient, service, and clinical data were collected using the QUALYCARE postal questionnaire. Multivariable logistic regression was employed to investigate the factors associated with achieving a home death when preferred.

RESULTS: Some 467 of 1,493 invited informants completed the survey. The 362 (77.5%) who expressed a preference for dying at home and spent time at home in their final 3 months were included in our analysis. Of these, 53.4% achieved their preference of a home death. Factors positively associated with achieving a home death were: living in an affluent area, receipt of good and satisfactory district nurse care, discussing place of death with health professionals, and the caregiver's preference for a home death. Being older than 80 years of age, being a Presbyterian, and being unconscious most of the time during their final week were negatively associated with achieving a home death.

SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Communication, care satisfaction, and caregiver preferences were all associated with home death. Our findings will help inform the design of future interventions aimed at increasing the proportion of patients achieving their preferred place of death at home, for example, by targeting interventions toward older patients and those from the most deprived communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-755
Number of pages7
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
Issue number6
Early online date23 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Death
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Choice Behavior
  • Home Care Agencies/organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Logistic Models
  • London
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms/complications
  • Northern Ireland
  • Patient Preference/psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminal Care/methods


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