Community-based palliative care is associated with reduced emergency department use by people with dementia in their last year of life: A retrospective cohort study
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Objective: To describe patterns in the use of hospital emergency departments in the last year of life by people who died with dementia and whether this was modified by use of community-based palliative care. Design: Retrospective population-based cohort study of people in their last year of life. Time-to-event analyses were performed using cumulative hazard functions and flexible parametric proportional hazards regression models. Setting/participants: All people living in Western Australia who died with dementia in the 2-year period 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2010 (dementia cohort; N = 5261). A comparative cohort of decedents without dementia who died from other conditions amenable to palliative care (N = 2685). Results: More than 70% of both the dementia and comparative cohorts attended hospital emergency departments in the last year of life. Only 6% of the dementia cohort used community-based palliative care compared to 26% of the comparative cohort. Decedents with dementia who were not receiving community-based palliative care attended hospital emergency departments more frequently than people receiving community-based palliative care. The magnitude of the increased rate of emergency department visits varied over the last year of life from 1.4 (95% confidence interval: 1.1–1.9) times more often in the first 3 months of follow-up to 6.7 (95% confidence interval: 4.7–9.6) times more frequently in the weeks immediately preceding death. Conclusions: Community-based palliative care of people who die with or of dementia is relatively infrequent but associated with significant reductions in hospital emergency department use in the last year of life.
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