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Death not hastened for those who choose to die at home

Death not hastened for those who choose to die at home - Featured Image

A large Japanese study has found terminal cancer patients who choose to die at home tend to live longer than those who die in hospital.

The study, published in Cancer journal, reassures oncologists that patients aren’t worse off when choosing home-based palliative care.

Jun Hamano, MD, of the University of Tsukuba in Japan studied 2069 patients: 1582 patients received hospital-based palliative care and 487 chose to receive palliative care at home.

The survival of patients who died at home was much longer than those who died in hospital, even after patients’ demographic and clinical characteristics were factored in.

Related: MJA – Goals of care: a clinical framework for limitation of medical treatment

The authors note that the patients who were referred for home-based palliative care “might be inherently different from those referred for hospital-based care, although all known confounding factors were successfully adjusted.”

They also said that not all medical treatments were recorded. “An exploration of the potential effect of the place of death on survival needs further investigation.”

“The cancer patient and family tend to be concerned that the quality of medical treatment provided at home will be inferior to that given in a hospital and that survival might be shortened; however, our finding—that home death does not actually have a negative influence on the survival of cancer patients at all, and rather may have a positive influence—could suggest that the patient and family can choose the place of death in terms of their preference and values,” said Dr. Hamano.

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