Associations between home deaths and end-of-life nursing care trajectories for community-dwelling people: a population-based registry study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: Few studies have estimated planned home deaths compared to actual place of death in a general population or the longitudinal course of home nursing services and associations with place of death. We aimed to investigate trajectories of nursing services, potentially planned home deaths regardless of place of death; and associations of place of death with potentially planned home deaths and nursing service trajectories, by analyzing data from the last 90 days of life. Methods: A retrospective longitudinal study with data from the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry and National registry for statistics on municipal healthcare services included all community-dwelling people who died in Norway 2012–2013 (n = 53,396). We used a group-based trajectory model to identify joint trajectories of home nursing (hours per week) and probability of a skilled nursing facility (SNF) stay, each of the 13 weeks leading up to death. An algorithm estimated potentially planned home deaths. We used a multinomial logistic regression model to estimate associations of place of death with potentially planned home deaths, trajectories of home nursing and short-term SNF. Results: We identified four home nursing service trajectories: no (46.5%), accelerating (7.6%), decreasing (22.1%), and high (23.5%) home nursing; and four trajectories of the probability of a SNF stay: low (69.0%), intermediate (6.7%), escalating (15.9%), and increasing (8.4%) SNF. An estimated 24.0% of all deaths were potentially planned home deaths, of which a third occurred at home. Only high home nursing was associated with increased likelihood of a home death (adjusted relative risk ratio (aRRR) 1.29; CI 1.21–1.38). Following any trajectory with elevated probability of a SNF stay reduced the likelihood of a home death. Conclusions: We estimated few potentially planned home deaths. Trajectories of home nursing hours and probability of SNF stays indicated possible effective palliative home nursing for some, but also missed opportunities of staying at home longer at the end-of-life. Continuity of care seems to be an important factor in palliative home care and home death.