While the focus of end-of-life care research and policy has predominantly been on 'death in a homelike environment', little is known about perceptions of the acute hospital setting as a place of final care or death. Using a qualitative design and constant comparative analysis, the perspectives of family physicians, nurses and family carers were explored. Participants generally perceived the acute hospital setting to be inadequate for terminally ill patients, although they indicated that in some circumstances it might be a 'safe haven'. This implies that a higher quality of end-of-life care provision in the acute hospital setting needs to be ensured, preferably by improving communication skills. At the same time alternatives to the acute hospital setting need to be developed or expanded.
Keywords: Hospitals; Location of death; Palliative care; Place of death; Terminal care.
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