The pattern and timing of changes in preferred place of death for patients admitted to a community specialist palliative care service

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Progress in Palliative Care, 2019, 27 (1), pp. 4 - 9
Issue Date:
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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. For patients receiving palliative care, expressing a preferred place of death (PPD) reduces anxiety and depression and increases the likelihood of achieving their preference. However, during the course of a life-limiting illness, patients commonly change their PPD at least once prior to death. The aim of this study was to identify the pattern and timing of how patients (and families) receiving specialist palliative care change their PPD over time. A retrospective chart audit was conducted of patients who died over a 7-month period whilst in the care of a metropolitan-based Community Specialist Palliative Care Service where PPD is routinely recorded every time a discussion on the topic occurs. These discussions are triggered by various factors which highlight the need to re-assess or confirm PPD. Results showed that 80% of patients achieved their PPD. There was no change to PPD in 64% of patients after the initial assessment, while 36% changed preferences once (27%), twice (8%) or three times (1%). Symptom management (10%) and family requests (30%) were cited as reasons for changing PPD. This study highlights that providers should revisit end-of-life discussions with patients along the disease trajectory and facilitate the consideration of all possible places for a good and safe death and the different scenarios that may influence patient decisions.
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