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Open Access Research article

Predictors of dying at home for patients receiving nursing services in Japan: A retrospective study comparing cancer and non-cancer deaths

Sumie Ikezaki* and Naoki Ikegami

Author Affiliations

Department of Health Policy & Management, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan

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BMC Palliative Care 2011, 10:3  doi:10.1186/1472-684X-10-3

Published: 3 March 2011

Abstract

Background

The combined effects of the patient's and the family's preferences for death at home have in determining the actual site of death has not been fully investigated. We explored this issue on patients who had been receiving end-of-life care from Visiting Nurse Stations (VNS). In Japan, it has been the government's policy to promote end-of-life care at home by expanding the use of VNS services.

Methods

A retrospective national survey of a random sample of 2,000 out of the 5,224 VNS was made in January 2005. Questionnaires were mailed to VNS asking the respondents to fill in the questionnaire for each patient who had died either at home or at the hospital from July to December of 2004. Logistic regression analysis was respectively carried out to examine the factors related to dying at home for cancer and non-cancer patients.

Results

We obtained valid responses from 1,016 VNS (50.8%). The total number of patients who had died in the selected period was 4,175 (cancer: 1,664; non-cancer: 2,511). Compared to cancer patients, non-cancer patients were older and had more impairment in activities of daily living (ADL) and cognitive performance, and a longer duration of care. The factor having the greatest impact for dying at home was that of both the patient and the family expressing such preferences [cancer: OR (95% CI) = 57.00 (38.79-83.76); non-cancer: OR (95% CI) = 12.33 (9.51-15.99)]. The Odds ratio was greater compared with cases in which only the family had expressed such a preference and in which only the patient had expressed such a preference. ADL or cognitive impairment and the fact that their physician was based at a clinic, and not at a hospital, had modest effects on dying at home.

Conclusions

Dying at home was more likely when both the patient and the family had expressed such preferences, than when the patient alone or the family alone had done so, in both cancer and non-cancer patients. Health care professionals should try to elicit the patient's and family's preferences on where they would wish to die, following which they should then take appropriate measures to achieve this outcome.