Cost variations in ambulatory and home-based palliative care

Palliat Med. 2010 Jul;24(5):523-32. doi: 10.1177/0269216310364877. Epub 2010 Mar 26.


Restructuring health care in Canada has emphasized the provision of ambulatory and home-based palliative care. Acquiring economic evidence is critical given this trend and its tremendous demands on family caregivers. The purposes of this study were: 1) to comprehensively assess the societal costs of home-based palliative care; and 2) to examine the socio-demographic and clinical factors that account for variations in costs over the course of the palliative trajectory. One hundred and thirty-six family caregivers were interviewed every two weeks from time of palliative referral until death. Information regarding appointments, travel and out-of-pocket expenses, time devoted to caregiving, as well as demographic and clinical characteristics were measured. The mean monthly cost of care per patient was $24,549 (2008 CDN$). Family caregivers' time costs comprised most costs (70%). Multivariable linear regression indicated that costs were greater for patients who: had lower physical functioning (p < 0.001); lived with someone (p = 0.007); and when the patients approached death (p = 0.021). Information highlighting the variation in costs across individuals may aid policy makers and mangers in deciding how to allocate resources. Greater clarity regarding costs over the course of the palliative trajectory may improve access to care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care / economics*
  • Canada
  • Caregivers / economics*
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Female
  • Home Care Services / economics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / economics*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Health Care / economics
  • Quality of Health Care / standards
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Terminally Ill