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Estimated mortality risk and use of palliative care services among home care clients during the last 6 months of life: a retrospective cohort study


Background — In Canada, only 15% of patients requiring palliative care receive such services in the year before death. We describe health care utilization patterns among home care users in their last 6 months of life to inform care planning for older people with varying mortality risks and evolving care needs as they decline.

Methods — Using population health administrative data from Ontario, we performed a retrospective cohort study involving home care clients aged 50 years and older who received at least 1 interRAI (Resident Assessment Instrument) Home Care assessment between April 2018 and September 2019. We report the proportion of clients who used acute care, long-term care, and palliative home care services within 6 months of their assessment, stratified by their predicted 6-month mortality risk using a prognostic tool called the Risk Evaluation for Support: Predictions for Elder-life in their Communities Tool (RESPECT) and vital status.

Results — The cohort included 247 377 adults, 11.9% of whom died within 6 months of an assessment. Among decedents, 50.6% of those with a RESPECT-estimated median survival of fewer than 3 months received at least 1 nonphysician palliative home care visit before death. This proportion declined to 38.7% and 29.5% among decedents with an estimated median survival between 3 and 6 months and between 6 and 12 months, respectively.

Interpretation — Many older adults in Ontario do not receive any palliative home care before death. Prognostic tools such as RESPECT may improve recognition of reduced life expectancies and palliative care needs of individuals in their final years of life.



Murmann M, Manuel DG, Tanuseputro P, Bennett C, Pugliese M, Li W, Roberts R, Hsu AT. CMAJ. 2024;

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