There is growing evidence that the palliative care needs of certain people, such as those from minority ethnic groups, are not being met. The aim of this study was to investigate whether place of death from cancer differs between ethnic groups. A total of 101,516 patients resident in South East England and who died from lung, colorectal, breast or prostate cancer between 1998 and 2006 were extracted from the Thames Cancer Registry database. Ethnicity data were available for 68,804 patients (68%). The odds ratios (ORs) of death from cancer in a hospice, at home or in hospital were calculated. The results were adjusted for age at death, deprivation, cancer network of residence and time between diagnosis and death. Following adjustment, death in a hospice was significantly less likely for Pakistani patients (OR=0.47 95% CI [0.30-0.74]), Indian patients (0.68 [0.55-0.84]) and Bangladeshi patients (0.33 [0.19-0.56]). Death at home was significantly less likely in Black African patients (0.48 [0.36-0.65]), Black Caribbean patients (0.78 [0.67-0.90]) and Chinese patients (0.46 [0.28-0.76]). Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Black African, Black Caribbean and Chinese patients were all significantly more likely than White patients to die in hospital. The results were not substantially altered by recoding the unknown ethnicity group to White or using multiple imputation to assign those with a missing ethnicity an ethnic group. Place of death varies between ethnic groups. This may reflect differences in preferences for place of death or barriers to accessing specialist care in different settings. More detailed prospective qualitative studies are urgently required to determine reasons for this variation.
© The Author(s) 2011