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Likelihood of death among hospital inpatients in New Zealand: prevalent cohort study

07 Dec 2017

Objectives

(1) To establish the likelihood of dying within 12 months for a cohort of hospital inpatients in New Zealand (NZ) on a fixed census date; (2) to identify associations between likelihood of death and key sociodemographic, diagnostic and service-related factors and (3) to compare results with, and extend findings of, a Scottish study undertaken for the same time period and census date. National databases of hospitalisations and death registrations were used, linked by unique health identifier.

Participants

6074 patients stayed overnight in NZ hospitals on the census date (10 April 2013), 40.8% of whom were aged ≥65 years; 54.4% were women; 69.1% of patients were NZ European; 15.3% were Maori; 7.6% were Pacific; 6.1% were Asian and 1.9% were ‘other’.

Setting

All NZ hospitals.

Results

14.5% patients (n=878) had died within 12 months: 1.6% by 7 days; 4.5% by 30 days; 8.0% by 3 months and 10.9% by 6 months. In logistic regression models, the strongest predictors of death within 12 months were: age ≥80 years (OR=5.52(95% CI 4.31 to 7.07)); a history of cancer (OR=4.20(3.53 to 4.98)); being Māori (OR=1.62(1.25 to 2.10)) and being admitted to a medical specialty, compared with a surgical specialty (OR=3.16(2.66 to 3.76)).

Conclusion

While hospitals are an important site of end of life care in NZ, their role is less significant than in Scotland, where 30% of an inpatient cohort recruited using similar methods and undertaken on the same census date had died within 12 months. One reason for this finding may be the extended role of residential long-term care facilities in end of life care provision in NZ.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open