Place of death in children and young people with cancer and implications for end of life care: A population-based study in England, 1993-2014

Wei Gao*, Julia Verne, Janet Peacock, Charles Stiller, Claudia Wells, Anne Greenough, Irene J. Higginson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Efforts to improve end of life care (EoLC) have made tangible impacts on care in adults, including enabling more people to die at their preferred place of death (PoD), usually home or hospices. Little is known how the PoD in children and young people (CYP, ≤24 years) has changed over time, especially in the context of a series of national initiatives for EoLC improvement since the late 1990s. To inform evidence-based policy-making and service development, we evaluated the national trends of PoD and the associated factors in CYP who died with cancer. Methods: Population-based observational study in the National Health Service (NHS) England, 1993-2014. All non-accidental CYP deaths with cancer (N=12,774) were extracted from the death registration database of the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Results: Hospital deaths reduced from >50 to 45 %, hospice deaths were rare but more than doubled from 6 % in 1993-2000 to 13 % in 2005-2014, and home deaths fluctuated at around 40 %. Those aged 0-19 years were more likely to die at home than young adults (adjusted proportion ratio (PRs): 1.23-1.62); haematological cancer patients or those with 2+ comorbid conditions had higher chances of hospital death (PRs for home: 0.18-0.75, hospice: 0.04-0.37); deprivation was associated with a reduced chance of home death (PRs: 0.76-0.84). The residential region affected hospice but not home deaths. The variations of PoD by cause of death, comorbid conditions and deprivation slightly decreased with time. Conclusions: Hospitals and home were the main EoLC settings for CYP with cancer. Home death rates barely changed in the past two decades; deaths in hospitals remained the most common but slightly shifted towards hospices. CYP with haematological malignancy or with comorbid conditions had persistently high hospital deaths; these cases had an even lower chance of deaths in hospices (50 %) than at home. There were deprivation- and area-related inequalities in PoD which may need service- and/or policy-level intervention. The findings highlight a need for CYP specific initiatives to enhance EoLC support and capacities both at home and in hospices.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number727
    JournalBMC Cancer
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2016

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2016 The Author(s).


    • Cancer
    • Children and young people
    • End of life care
    • Inequality
    • Palliative care
    • Place of death


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