Methodological review: measured and reported congruence between preferred and actual place of death

Palliat Med. 2009 Sep;23(6):482-90. doi: 10.1177/0269216309106318. Epub 2009 Jun 3.


Congruence between preferred and actual place of death is an important palliative care outcome reported in the literature. We examined methods of measuring and reporting congruence to highlight variations impairing cross-study comparisons. Medline, PsychInfo, CINAHL, and Web of Science were systematically searched for clinical research studies examining patient preference and congruence as an outcome. Data were extracted into a matrix, including purpose, reported congruence, and method for eliciting preference. Studies were graded for quality. Using tables of preferred versus actual places of death, an overall congruence (total met preferences out of total preferences) and a kappa statistic of agreement were determined for each study. Twelve studies were identified. Percentage of congruence was reported using four different definitions. Ten studies provided a table or partial table of preferred versus actual deaths for each place. Three studies provided kappa statistics. No study achieved better than moderate agreement when analysed using kappa statistics. A study which elicited ideal preference reported the lowest agreement, while longitudinal studies reporting final preferred place of death yielded the highest agreement (moderate agreement). Two other studies of select populations also yielded moderate agreement. There is marked variation in methods of eliciting and reporting congruence, even among studies focused on congruence as an outcome. Cross-study comparison would be enhanced by the use of similar questions to elicit preference, tables of preferred versus actual places of death, and kappa statistics of agreement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Death*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Patient Preference*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Terminally Ill / psychology*