Objective: To determine characteristics associated with site of death in a cohort of long-term homecare patients.
Design: Cohort study.
Setting: Community-based long-term care program.
Subjects: All patients 65 years of age or older who died within 1 year of admission during 1989 and 1990.
Main outcome measure: Site of death.
Results: Of 620 subjects, site of death was hospital for 302 (49%), home for 132 (21%), nursing home for 124 (20%), and inpatient hospice for 45 (7%). Among patients living at home before death, factors associated with dying at home rather than in a hospital or inpatient hospice included female gender (relative risk (RR) 1.40, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.00, 1.90); severely dependent functional status (RR 2.38, CI 1.39, 4.17) and cognitive status (RR 1.51, CI 1.10, 2.06); and dying of cancer (RR 1.68, CI 1.11, 2.55), chronic lung disease (AOR 1.75, CI 1.04, 2.95), or coronary artery disease (RR 1.93, CI 1.21, 3.09). Living with a child (RR 1.45, CI .99, 2.11) showed a trend toward association with dying at home.
Conclusions: Even among a subgroup of older persons receiving community-based long-term care, the frequency of home death is low. The finding of an association between functional, social, and disease status and site of death suggests that the relationship between these factors and patients' preferences and care needs must be examined in order to understand how to optimize the site of terminal care.