The rapidly changing location of death in Canada, 1994-2004

Soc Sci Med. 2009 May;68(10):1752-8. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.03.006. Epub 2009 Apr 1.


This 2008 study assessed location-of-death changes in Canada during 1994-2004, after previous research had identified a continuing increase to 1994 in hospital deaths. The most recent (1994-2004) complete population and individual-level Statistics Canada mortality data were analyzed, involving 1,806,318 decedents of all Canadian provinces and territories except Quebec. A substantial and continuing decline in hospitalized deaths was found (77.7%-60.6%). This decline was universal among decedents regardless of age, gender, marital status, whether they were born in Canada or not, across urban and rural provinces, and for all but two (infrequent) causes of death. This shift occurred in the absence of policy or purposive healthcare planning to shift death or dying out of hospital. In the developed world, recent changing patterns in the place of death, as well as the location and type of care provided near death appear to be occurring, making location-of-death trends an important topic of investigation. Canada is an important case study for highlighting the significance of location-of-death trends, and suggesting important underlying causal relationships and implications for end-of-life policies and practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attitude to Death
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Home Care Services / trends*
  • Hospitalization / trends*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care
  • Terminal Care / trends*