Marie Curie nurses: enabling patients with cancer to die at home

Br J Community Nurs. 2002 May;7(5):240-4. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2002.7.5.10359.


Marie Curie Cancer Care established its nursing service in 1958; however, the service has had little formal evaluation. This study aimed to describe and evaluate the care provided by Marie Curie nurse, and in particular to determine whether patients in their care remained and died at home. Two existing data sets were used: data on all patients referred to the Marie Curie Nursing Services in 147 areas of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for 26 months, and data on cancer death registrations in England. A request for a Marie Curie nurse was made for 26,632 patients, 97% of whom had cancer and 11% of whom lived alone. The amount of care provided varied enormously (<1 hour-2862 hours), although the vast majority of patients less than 300 hours of nursing care. Place of death was recorded for only half these patients; 94% died at home, 2.5% in a hospice, 2.3% in a hospital, 0.2% in a nursing home and 0.6% other. Home death was most often associated with patients receiving medication via a syringe driver, patients living with other people, patients with cancer, other than prostate cancer, shorter time between referral and death and younger age. The results lend support to the theory that the care given to patients in their homes by Marie Curie nurses facilitated home death for many patients. Services need to ensure that mechanisms are in place to achieve data collection. Rigorous prospective evaluation is needed in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Nursing Care
  • Nursing*
  • Terminal Care
  • United Kingdom