Family preference for place of death mediates the relationship between patient preference and actual place of death: a nationwide retrospective cross-sectional study.

PloS one

PubMedID: 23520458

Ishikawa Y, Fukui S, Saito T, Fujita J, Watanabe M, Yoshiuchi K. Family preference for place of death mediates the relationship between patient preference and actual place of death: a nationwide retrospective cross-sectional study. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(3):e56848.
BACKGROUND
Discrepancy between preferred and actual place of death is common in cancer patients. While previous research has elucidated the factors associated with congruence between patients' preferred and actual place of death, it is not known how the perspective of the family influences the place of death. This study examined whether family preference for place of death mediates the relationship between patient preference and actual place of death.

METHODS
A total of 258 cancer patients (home death, n?=?142; hospital death, n?=?116) who had received terminal care in Japan were analyzed. Measures included patients' demographic variables, patient and family preferences for place for death, actual place of death, patients' functional status, use and intensity of home care, availability of inpatient bed, living arrangement, and amount of extended family support.

RESULTS
Patient-family congruence on preferred place of death was 66% in patients who died at home and 47% in patients who died at other places (kappa coefficient: 0.20 and 0.25, respectively). In a multiple logistic regression model, patients were more likely to die at home when patients were male (odds ratio [OR], 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.53, 1.06-6.05) and when their family preferred death at home (OR, 95% CI: 37.37, 13.82-101.03). A Sobel test revealed that family preference mediated the relationship between patient preference and place of death (p<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS
This study is, to our knowledge, the first to unveil the role of the family in the relationship between patient preference and place of death in Japan. In order to honor patients' wishes to die at home, supporting caregivers in the family may be an essential component of terminal care.