Background: Relatively little work of a detailed geographical nature has been undertaken on the distribution of place of death. In particular, given evidence that most cancer patients would prefer to die at home there is a need to examine the extent to which this preference is met differentially from place to place.
Methods: Using data on cancer deaths for a single Health Authority in North West England we conducted both small area and individual analyses of place of death, using binomial and binary logistic regression models, respectively.
Results: Results from the small area analysis show that in more deprived areas cancer patients are more likely to die in hospital or hospice, and less likely to die at home, but that the effect disappears for home and hospice deaths once other factors are controlled for. At the individual level, the probability of death at home decreases among those living in deprived areas, whereas the probability of death in hospital increases as area deprivation increases. Age, gender, type of cancer, and proximity to hospital or hospice all have some effect on the probability of dying in a particular setting.
Conclusion: There is significant place-to-place variation in place of death among cancer patients in part of North West England. However, studies of place of death among cancer patients need to consider the full range of settings and, if examining the impact of deprivation or social class, need to adjust for other factors, including proximity to different settings.