Cancer patients spend more time at home and more often die at home with advance care planning conversations in primary health care: a retrospective observational cohort study

BMC Palliat Care. 2022 May 2;21(1):61. doi: 10.1186/s12904-022-00952-1.


Background: Spending time at home and dying at home is advocated to be a desirable outcome in palliative care (PC). In Norway, home deaths among cancer patients are rare compared to other European countries. Advance care planning (ACP) conversations enable patients to define goals and preferences, reflecting a person's wishes and current medical condition.

Method: The study included 250 cancer patients in the Romsdal region with or without an ACP conversation in primary health care who died between September 2018 and August 2020. The patients were identified through their contact with the local hospital, cancer outpatient clinic or hospital-based PC team.

Results: During the last 90 days of life, patients who had an ACP conversation in primary health care (N=125) were mean 9.8 more days at home, 4.5 less days in nursing home and 5.3 less days in hospital. Having an ACP conversation in primary health care, being male or having a lower age significantly predicted more days at home at the end of life (p< .001). Patients with an ACP conversation in primary health care where significantly more likely to die at home (p< .001) with a four times higher probability (RR=4.5). Contact with the hospital-based PC team was not associated with more days at home or death at home. Patients with contact with the hospital-based PC team were more likely to have an ACP conversation in primary health care.

Conclusion: Palliative cancer patients with an ACP conversation in primary health care spent more days at home and more frequently died at home. Data suggest it is important that ACP conversations are conducted in primary health care setting.

Keywords: Advance Care Planning; Cancer; Home Care; Home death; Palliative Care; Place of death; Primary Health Care.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Primary Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Terminal Care*