Palliative Sedation at Home: A Scoping Review

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2023 Feb;40(2):173-182. doi: 10.1177/10499091221096412. Epub 2022 Apr 23.


Palliative Sedation (PS) is an effective measure for the relief of refractory symptoms in end-of-life patients. This intervention can be performed at home, respecting the patients' and their families' decisions. A scoping review was performed to map the available evidence in the literature on the performance of PS at home. This review included 23 studies. Most were conducted in European countries with adult cancer patients. Patients, family members and healthcare providers participated in the decision making regarding the use of PS at home. PS was used primarily to manage refractory symptoms (pain, delirium, dyspnea, and others), and in 1 of the studies PS was mentioned as a possible intervention for shortening life. The most commonly used medication was midazolam and the average duration ranged from 4 h to 7 days. There are few reports on adverse events related to PS. This intervention seems to be a feasible possibility for the management of refractory symptoms in patients at the end of life, despite the fact that it can represent specific challenges for healthcare providers, patients and families. However, the literature is limited regarding PS in children and in people with diseases other than cancer, as well as on the evaluation of possible adverse effects related to this intervention. Furthermore, it is essential to have a broad ethical, clinical and legal debate on whether to consider the use of PS for the purpose of shortening life in specific cases.

Keywords: deep sedation; end-of-life; ethics; home care services; hospice care; palliative sedation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Death
  • Dyspnea / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Midazolam / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Palliative Care
  • Terminal Care*


  • Midazolam
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives