General practitioner awareness of preferred place of death and correlates of dying in a preferred place: a nationwide mortality follow-back study in the Netherlands

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2009 Oct;38(4):568-77. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2008.12.007. Epub 2009 Aug 18.


To improve the quality of end-of-life care, general practitioner (GP) awareness of where their patients prefer to die is important. To examine GP awareness of patients' preferred place of death (POD), associated patient- and care-related characteristics, and the congruence between preferred and actual POD in The Netherlands, a mortality follow-back study was conducted between January 2005 and December 2006. Standardized registration forms were used to collect data on all nonsudden deaths (n=637) by means of the Dutch Sentinel Network, a nationally representative network of general practices. Forty-six percent of patients had GPs who were not aware of their preferred POD. Of those whose GPs were aware, 88% had preferred to die in a private or care home, 10% in a hospice or palliative care unit, and 2% in a hospital. GPs were informed by the patients themselves in 84% of cases. Having financial status "above average," a life-prolongation or palliative care goal, and using specialist palliative care services were associated with higher GP-awareness odds. Four-fifth of patients with known preferred POD died there. There is a potential for improving GP awareness of patients' preferred POD. Such awareness is enhanced when palliation is an active part of end-of-life care. The hospital is the POD least preferred by dying patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Data Collection
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Patients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data*