Go to content

Place of death and place of care at the end of life: are they correlated? a retrospective cohort study of Ontario decedents


Background — Dying in nonpalliative acute care is generally considered inappropriate and avoidable. Place of death, a commonly reported big-dot indicator of end-of-life care quality, is often used as a proxy for place of care despite no empirical evidence for their correlations. Thus, we examined the correlations between place of death and place of care in the last month of life. We also investigated anecdotal claims that individuals cared in acute care often get discharged to die at home, and vice versa.

Methods — We conducted a retrospective cohort study of Ontario decedents (18+) who died between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2017. We identified individuals who died in nonpalliative acute care, palliative care unit, subacute care, long-term care (LTC), and the community. We calculated the number of days decedents spent in each setting in their last month of life, and used descriptive analyses to investigate their correlations.

Results — Decedent’s place of death generally correlated with their place of care in the last month of life—individuals who died in a particular setting spent more time in that setting than individuals who died elsewhere. Furthermore, 75.0% of individuals who spent more than two weeks of their last month in acute care died in acute care. Among individuals who died in the community and in LTC, 65.4% and 75.0%, respectively, spent zero days in acute care.

Interpretation — We showed that place of death can be a useful high-level performance indicator, by itself and as a proxy for place of care, to gauge end-of-life quality and service provision/implementation.



Li W, Qureshi D, Rhodes E, Imsirovic H, Isenberg SR, Tanuseputro P. J Palliat Med. 2023; Nov 15 [Epub ahead of print].

View Source

Contributing ICES Scientists

Research Programs

Associated Topics

Associated Sites