OBJECTIVES: Understanding patients' preferences for place of death and supporting patients to achieve their wishes has become a priority. This study aims to: (1) examine preferences of patients referred to a specialist palliative care service; (2) determine whether preferences of those who have been admitted as hospice inpatients differ from those who have not; (3) identify reasons why preferred place of death (PPD) is sometimes not recorded; and (iv) investigate whether nominating a PPD relates to actual place of death.
METHOD: PPD information was collected as part of standard care for all patients referred to a specialist palliative care service. Case notes were reviewed retrospectively for 1127 patients who died under the care of the service.
RESULTS: Seventy-seven percent of the patients expressed a PPD, a further 21% of patients had documented reasons for PPD remaining unknown. Eighty percent of patients who had never been admitted to the hospice wanted to die at home. In contrast, 79% of those with at least one hospice inpatient admission wanted to die in the hospice. Patients who had an unknown PPD were three times more likely to die in hospital.
CONCLUSIONS: Most patients in a specialist palliative care setting are willing to express a PPD. Preferences differ for patients who had never been admitted as hospice inpatients from those who have had at least one inpatient stay. Routine and ongoing assessment of PPD are recommended to support patients' wishes at the end of life.
- Attitude to Death
- Hospice Care
- Palliative Care
- Patient Preference
- Retrospective Studies