Dying in Canada: is it an institutionalized, technologically supported experience?

J Palliat Care. 2000 Oct;16 Suppl:S10-6.


Although preliminary evidence shows that people generally prefer to die at home, very little is known about where Canadians die. Understanding the epidemiology of dying in Canada may illuminate opportunities to improve quality of end-of-life care and related health policy. We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of death records in Canada to determine the proportions of deaths occurring in hospitals and special care units. Our analysis found that deaths in Canada occur in hospitals with provincial and territorial proportions ranging from 87% in Quebec to 52% in the Northwest Territories. In hospitals recording deaths in special care units, 18.64% of all deaths occurred in special care units. The proportion of deaths in special care units ranged from 25% in Manitoba to 7% in the Northwest Territories. The proportion of deaths in special care units varied by size and nature (teaching vs. non-teaching) of hospitals. It increased with the size of the hospital from 8% in hospitals with 1-49 beds, to 23% for hospitals with 400 or more beds. In teaching hospitals, 27% of deaths occurred in special care units, and in non-teaching hospitals the proportion was 15%. In conclusion, the majority of deaths in Canada occur in hospitals and a substantial proportion occur in special care units, raising questions about the appropriateness and quality of current end-of-life care practices in Canada.

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Palliative Care
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Terminal Care / organization & administration*
  • Terminal Care / standards