The trajectory of palliative care costs over the last 5 months of life: a Canadian longitudinal study

Palliat Med. 2010 Sep;24(6):630-40. doi: 10.1177/0269216310368453. Epub 2010 May 25.


Objective: This study aimed to highlight the trajectory of palliative care costs over the last five months of life in five urban centres across Canada.

Subjects: The study sample was comprised of 160 terminally ill patients and their main informal caregivers.

Research design: A first interview took place in the patient's home, and subsequent follow-up interviews were conducted by telephone at two week intervals until the patient's passing.

Measures: Participants were asked to provide information on the goods and services they used related to the patients' health condition, and on informal caregiving time.

Results: The overall costs of care gradually increased from the fifth to the last month of the patients' life. A large part of this cost increase was attributable to inpatient care. Among outpatient care costs the largest increase was observed for home care. Informal care costs were particularly high over the last 3 months of life.

Conclusions: The knowledge gained from this study would be useful to policy makers when developing policies that could help families caring for a terminally ill loved one at home.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada
  • Caregivers / economics*
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Home Care Services / economics*
  • Home Care Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospice Care / economics*
  • Hospice Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / economics*
  • Palliative Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Terminal Care / economics*
  • Terminally Ill
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult