Introduction: Place of death is considered a quality indicator of end-of-life care and enabling people to die where they choose is an important aspiration of palliative care. This study aims to examine the association between involvement of palliative care services and place of death.
Methods: Data about patient characteristics, use of general health care, and involvement of palliative care services in nonsudden or expected deaths in all health care settings in 2005-2006 (N = 1690) were collected by a surveillance network of general practitioners (GPs) in Belgium. Bivariate and multivariate associations between involvement of palliative care services and dying at home, in hospital, in a care home, or in a palliative care unit were examined using χ(2) tests and Wald tests.
Results: Palliative care services were involved in 21.8% of deaths of those living at home, in 29.1% of those living in care homes, and in 12.4% of deaths in hospital. People were more likely to die in their usual residence rather than in hospital if multidisciplinary palliative home care teams (odds ratio [OR]: 8.4, confidence interval [CI]: 4.7-15.1) or the palliative care reference persons of their care home (OR: 9.4, CI: 3.3-26.7) were involved. Involvement of multidisciplinary palliative support teams in hospitals was associated with lower chances of dying at home (OR: 0.3, CI: 0.1-0.9). High involvement of GPs was not directly associated with out-of-hospital death.
Discussion: Involving multidisciplinary palliative home care teams and palliative care reference persons in care homes could support people in dying out-of-hospital. Health care policy-makers should consider strategies to improve involvement of palliative care services in all health care settings.