Home care by general practitioners for cancer patients in the last 3 months of life: An epidemiological study of quality and associated factors

Palliat Med. 2016 Jan;30(1):64-74. doi: 10.1177/0269216315589213. Epub 2015 Jun 2.


Background: Stronger generalist end-of-life care at home for people with cancer is called for but the quality of end-of-life care delivered by general practitioners has been questioned.

Aim: To determine the degree of and factors associated with bereaved relatives' satisfaction with home end-of-life care delivered by general practitioners to cancer patients.

Design: Population-based mortality followback survey.

Setting/participants: Bereaved relatives of people who died of cancer in London, United Kingdom (identified from death registrations in 2009-2010), were invited to complete a postal questionnaire surveying the deceased's final 3 months of life.

Results: Questionnaires were completed for 596 decedents of whom 548 spent at least 1 day at home in the last 3 months of life. Of the respondents, 55% (95% confidence interval: 51%-59%) reported excellent/very good home care by general practitioners, compared with 78% (95% confidence interval: 74%-82%) for specialist palliative care providers and 68% (95% confidence interval: 64%-73%) for district/community/private nurses. The odds of high satisfaction (excellent/very good) with end-of-life care by general practitioners doubled if general practitioners made three or more compared with one or no home visits in the patient's last 3 months of life (adjusted odds ratio: 2.54 (95% confidence interval: 1.52-4.24)) and halved if the patient died at hospital rather than at home (adjusted odds ratio: 0.55 (95% confidence interval: 0.31-0.998)).

Conclusion: There is considerable room for improvement in the satisfaction with home care provided by general practitioners to terminally ill cancer patients. Ensuring an adequate offer of home visits by general practitioners may help to achieve this goal.

Keywords: Cancer; general practitioners; home care services; palliative care; satisfaction with care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • General Practitioners*
  • Home Care Services* / standards
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminal Care* / standards
  • Young Adult