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Temporal association between home nursing and hospital costs at end of life in three provinces


Background — Research has demonstrated that increases in palliative homecare nursing are associated with a reduction in the rate of subsequent hospitalizations. However, little evidence is available about the cost-savings potential of palliative nursing when accounting for both increased nursing costs and potentially reduced hospital costs.

Methods — Our retrospective cohort study included cancer decedents from British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia who received any palliative nursing in the last 6 months of life. A Poisson regression analysis was used to determine the association of increased nursing costs (in 2-week blocks) on the relative average hospital costs in the subsequent 2-week block and on the overall total cost (hospital costs plus nursing costs in the preceding 2-week block).

Results — The cohort included 58,022 cancer decedents. Results of the analysis for the last month of life showed an association between increased nursing costs and decreased relative hospital costs in comparisons with a reference group (>0 to 1 hour nursing in the block): the maximum decrease was 55% for Ontario, 31% for British Columbia, and 38% for Nova Scotia. Also, increased nursing costs in the last month were almost always associated with lower total costs in comparison with the reference. For example, cost savings per person-block ranged from $376 (>10 nursing hours) to $1,124 (>4 to 6 nursing hours) in British Columbia.

Conclusions — In the last month of life, increased palliative nursing costs (compared with costs for >0 to 1 hour of nursing in the block) were associated with lower relative hospital costs and a lower total cost in a subsequent block. Our research suggests a cost-savings potential associated with increased community-based palliative nursing.



Seow H, Pataky R, Lawson B, O’Leary EM, Sutradhar R, Fassbender K, McGrail K, Barbera L, Burge F, Peacock S, Hoch JS. Curr Oncol. 2016; 23(Suppl 1):S42-51. Epub 2016 Feb 29.

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