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Places of death and places of care for Indigenous Peoples in Ontario: a retrospective cohort study


Objectives — Most people, including Indigenous people in Ontario, wish to die in their communities. How often Indigenous people in Ontario die in their preferred settings is unknown. This study aims to describe the places of care and death for Indigenous people in Ontario who received provincially funded home care services.

Methods — We conducted a retrospective cohort study using linked health administrative databases housed at ICES. We used a population-based cohort of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Ontario who died between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2015 to describe characteristics of people, places of death, and places of care.

Results — Indigenous decedents were on average 8.8 years younger, had more chronic diseases, and lived in lower income neighbourhoods compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts. Indigenous decedents spent nearly 8 more days in acute care in the last year of life and more died in acute care (56.1% versus 46.1%). When controlling for covariates, Indigenous decedents received 1.9 fewer home care nursing hours and 5 fewer personal support worker hours and showed decreased odds (OR 0.72) of receiving a palliative physician visit in the last 90 days of life. Among Indigenous decedents, a palliative physician visit lowered odds of dying in acute care by 50% and total days in acute care by 18%.

Conclusion — Our study identified a gap in end-of-life care for Indigenous Peoples in Ontario receiving provincially funded home care. Without continued efforts to address challenges that perpetuate health inequalities, we expect many Indigenous people will continue to die in acute care away from their people, families, and culturally relevant supports.



Funnell S, Walker J, Letendre A, Bearskin RLB, Manuel D, Scott M, Spruin S, Tanuseputro P. Can J Public Health. 2021; 112(4):685-96. Epub 2021 May 18.

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