Where do people die? An international comparison of the percentage of deaths occurring in hospital and residential aged care settings in 45 populations, using published and available statistics

Int J Public Health. 2013 Apr;58(2):257-67. doi: 10.1007/s00038-012-0394-5. Epub 2012 Aug 15.


Objective: Place of death, specifically the percentage who die in hospital or residential aged care, is largely unreported. This paper presents a cross-national comparison of location of death information from published reports and available data.

Methods: Reports of deaths occurring in hospitals, residential aged care facilities, and other locations for periods since 2001 were compiled.

Results: Over 16 million deaths are reported in 45 populations. Half reported 54 % or more of all deaths occurred in hospitals, ranging from Japan (78 %) to China (20 %). Of 21 populations reporting deaths of older people, a median of 18 % died in residential aged care, with percentages doubling with each 10-year increase in age, and 40 % higher among women.

Conclusions: This place of death study includes more populations than any other known. In many populations, residential aged care was an important site of death for older people, indicating the need to optimise models of end-of-life care in this setting. For many countries, more standardised reporting of place of death would inform policies and planning of services to support end-of-life care.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Global Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homes for the Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data*