Dying at home for terminal cancer patients: differences by level of education and municipality of residence in Spain

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Objective: To measure and assess differences by educational level in the place of death for cancer patients, and to determine whether patterns of geographical disparities are associated with access to palliative care services in the municipality of residence. Method: We analysed the death certificates of adults (older than 24) who died of cancer (ICD-10 C00 to C97) in Spain during 2015, either at home, in hospital or in a long-term care centre. Of the 105,758 individuals included in the study population, 75.2% lived in one of the 746 identifiable municipalities (more than 10,000 inhabitants). This individual database was combined with three economic databases at municipal level and with a directory of palliative care resources published by the Sociedad Española de Cuidados Paliativos. Multilevel models were estimated to predict the place of death according to individual characteristics. Generalised least squares regression models were then applied to the municipal effects estimated in the first stage. Results: The probability of dying in long-term care centre decreases as levels of education increase; the probability of dying at home, rather than in hospital, is higher for patients with higher education. Dying in hospital is an urban phenomenon. There are large differences between Spanish regions. Access to palliative services is only of marginal significance in accounting for the systematic differences observed between municipalities. Conclusions: Developing specific plans for palliative care, with an active role being played by primary care teams, may help improve end-of-life care in Spain.




López-Valcárcel, B. G., Pinilla, J., & Barber, P. (2018). Dying at home for terminal cancer patients: differences by level of education and municipality of residence in Spain. Gaceta Sanitaria. Ediciones Doyma, S.L. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaceta.2018.06.011

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