A new study shows patients with terminal cancer tend to live longer when they choose to die at home instead of in hospital.
When asked, most people have indicated that they would prefer to die at home in the presence of loved ones, yet almost 70 per cent of Canadian deaths occur in a hospital, according to Statistics Canada.
Many are concerned that they’ll die sooner at home because they won’t have access to care they could be getting in hospitals, researchers said.
“However, our finding — that home death does not actually have a negative influence on the survival of cancer patients at all, and rather may have a positive influence — could suggest that the patient and family can choose the place of death in terms of their preference and values,” said Jun Hamano, doctor and lead researcher at the University of Tsukuba in Japan.
Researchers studied the final days of over 2,000 terminal cancer patients in Japan, comparing roughly 1500 patients receiving hospital-based palliative care and 500 receiving home-based palliative care.
Published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, researchers suggest that patients who died at home lived “significantly longer” than patients who died in hospitals, even after adjusting for patients’ demographic and clinical characteristics.
Those who doctors predicted had days to live gained an additional four days, while those with weeks to live gained seven days, despite the fact that patients in home palliative care were less likely to be given IV fluids and antibiotics.
“Patients, families, and clinicians should be reassured that good home hospice care does not shorten patient life, and even may achieve longer survival,” Dr. Hamano said.