Utilization of health-care services at the end-of-life.
Journal article, 2007
End-of-life care poses a growing clinical and policy concern since most people who are dying utilize health-care services during this period of life. Hence, end-of-life care is a common and integral part of the care provided by health-care systems. There is a growing call for the implementation of a palliative approach as an integral part of all end-of-life care. The purpose of this study was thus to provide policy-makers, health-care providers and professional caregivers with increased knowledge about mainstream patterns of health-care utilization during end-of-life. The patterns of use of health-care services in a Swedish population who accessed the health-care system during their last 3 months of life were in this study examined through a retrospective examinations of medical and nursing records (n=229). We found high prevalences of use of both hospital care, primary care and care provided in people's homes and nearly three quarters of the persons included in the study used between two and three health-care services. However, the probability of using different health-care services was found to be strongly depending on demographic, social, functional and disease related characteristics. The study reveals a considerable use of different health-care services during end-of-life. It is hence essential to, on one hand delineate how such health-care services best can support people at the end-of-life, and on the other hand develop policies which facilitate the process of dying, both in hospitals as well as in peoples' homes. Implications for policy are discussed.