Terminally ill cancer patients who choose to die at home do not lose out on quality medical care. Instead, a new study is reporting that patients who opted to go home ended up living longer than patients who stayed at the hospital.
For this study, the researchers examined 2,069 patients who were receiving palliative care between Sept. 2012 and April 2014. Most of them, 1,582 people, were treated at the hospital, while the remaining 487 received care at home. A total of 58 specialist end of life care services were included.
After factoring in variables that could contribute to death, such as the patient's demographics, the researchers found that patients who received end-of-life care at home tended to live longer. The estimated median survival time was 13 days for the group of patients who went home and nine days for the patients who stayed at a hospital.
The researchers also looked at the weeks' prognosis group using the Palliative Care Study predictor model and estimated that prognoses were 36 days for the at-home group and 29 days for the hospital group.
"The cancer patient and family tend to be concerned that the quality of medical treatment provided at home will be inferior to that given in a hospital and that survival might be shortened; 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 Dr. Jun Hamano of the University of Tsukuba in Japan. "Patients, families and clinicians should be reassured that good home hospice care does not shorten patient life, and even may achieve longer survival."
Several studies that compared the pros and cons of receiving palliative care at home versus the hospital have been conducted. In a 2013 review, researchers found that people who were treated at home were more likely to die there and less likely to experience burdens from the illness. At-home care also did not increase grief for the patient's family. In a more recent 2014 study, researchers found that home-based end-of-life care was associated with reduced medical costs.
The study's findings were published in the American Cancer Society's journal CANCER.