Where people die: a multilevel approach to understanding influences on site of death in America

Med Care Res Rev. 2007 Aug;64(4):351-78. doi: 10.1177/1077558707301810.


Despite documented preferences for home death, the majority of deaths from terminal illness occur in hospital. To better understand variation in place of death, we conducted a systematic literature review and a multilevel analysis in which we linked death certificates with county and state data. The results of both components revealed that opportunities for home death are disproportionately found in certain groups of Americans; more specifically, those who are White, have greater access to resources and social support, and die of cancer. From the multilevel analysis, the higher the proportion minority and the lower the level of educational attainment, the higher the probability of hospital death while investment in institutional long-term care, measured by regional density of nursing home beds and state Medicaid payment rate, was associated with higher probability of nursing home death. These results reinforce the importance of both social and structural characteristics in shaping the end-of-life experience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Death*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Death Certificates
  • Demography
  • Empirical Research
  • Home Care Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Probability
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Support
  • Terminally Ill / classification
  • Terminally Ill / psychology*
  • United States