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Trends in place of death in a small developing country: a population-level study using death certificate data

Abstract

Background Valuable information for planning future end-of-life care (EOLC) services and care facilities can be gained by studying trends in place of death (POD). Scarce data exist on the POD in small developing countries. This study aims to examine shifts in the POD of all persons dying between 1999 and 2010 in Trinidad and Tobago, to draw conclusions about changes in the distribution of POD over time and the possible implications for EOLC practice and policy.

Methods A population-level analysis of routinely collected death certificate data of the most recent available fully coded years at the time of the study—1999 to 2010. Observed proportions for the POD of all deaths were standardised according to the age, sex and cause of death distribution in 1999. Trends for a subgroup of persons who died from causes indicative of a palliative care (PC) need were also examined.

Results The proportion of deaths in government hospitals increased from 48.9% to 55.4% and decreased from 38.7% to 29.7% at private homes. There was little variation between observed and standardised rates. The decrease in home deaths was stronger when the PC subcategory was considered, most notably from cancer.

Conclusion Internationally, the proportion of deaths at institutions is increasing. A national strategy on palliative and EOLC is needed to facilitate the increasing number of people who seek EOLC at government hospitals in Trinidad and Tobago, including an investigation into the reasons for the trend. Alternatives to accommodate out-of-hospital deaths can be considered.

  • Place of death
  • trend
  • end-of-life care
  • hospital
  • developing country
  • Caribbean

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