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Days spent at home before death from cancer for immigrants and long-term residents in Ontario, Canada

Engelhart S, Cheung M, Croxford R, Singh S. J Palliat Med. 2021; 24(4):593-8. Epub 2020 Dec 22. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2020.0287


Background — Time at home before death is an emerging patient-centered metric of quality end-of-life care. It is unknown if immigrants who die from cancer in Ontario spend less time at home near the end of life.

Objective — Compare the number of days at home (DAH) in the last six months of life for immigrants and long-term residents (LTRs) who die from cancer.

Methods — Population-based cohort study (January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2013) using administrative databases. Participants were adults (≥18 years) who died from cancer in Ontario. Immigrants were defined as those who immigrated from 1985 onward. The outcome was DAH in the last six months of life. Analysis included univariate and multivariable regression, adjusting for patient and disease characteristics. Subgroup analyses assessed DAH by immigration class, time since immigration, and region of birth. Sensitivity analyses excluded patients with breast and prostate cancer to examine for sex differences.

Results — Seventy-two thousand nine hundred eighty-eight individuals (3988 immigrants) were identified. Immigrants spent fewer DAH in the last six months (unadjusted 162 days vs. 164 days, p < 0.001). This remained statistically significant after adjusting (p = 0.0087). DAH varied by immigration class and region of birth. Sensitivity analyses suggest a sex difference in end-of-life time spent at home.

Conclusions — Immigrants who die from cancer in Ontario spend fewer DAH before death than LTRs. This may be due to patient preferences, inequitable access to services, or availability of local relatives for support. Further research is needed to understand the causes of this association.

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