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Determinants of Hospice Home Care Use Among Terminally Ill Cancer Patients

Tang, Siew Tzuh


Background Despite the widespread availability of hospice services for more than two decades in the United States, currently many terminally ill cancer patients who may benefit from hospice care do not receive it.

Purpose To identify determinants of the use of hospice home care services for terminally ill cancer patients during their final days of life.

Methods Secondary analysis of data from 127 terminally ill cancer patients who participated in a prospective and exploratory study aimed at identifying determinants of congruence between the preferred and actual place of death. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to identify determinants of hospice home care use.

Results Sixty-four (50.4%) out of the 127 participants had used hospice home care services before death. Important determinants of hospice home care use included: (a) longer length of survival (odds ratio [OR] 1.02; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.01–1.03); (b) perceived greater family ability to achieve preferred place of death (OR: 1.85; 95% CI: 1.30–2.62); (c) home as the realistic preferred place of death (OR: 5.58; 95% CI: 1.95–16.03); (d) being female (OR: 5.37; 95% CI: 1.81–15.95); (e) lower levels of functional dependency (OR: 0.94; 95% CI: 0.89–0.99); and (f) use of emergency care during the final days of life (OR: 4.03; 95% CI: 1.26–12.94).

Conclusions The results of this study identified several groups of terminally ill cancer patients who were at a disadvantage to use hospice home care, including those without sufficient family resources but who required intensive nursing care. Providing nursing care that enables family care-taking at home may facilitate hospice home care use for patients.

Siew Tzuh Tang, RN, DNSc, is Assistant Professor of National Yang-Ming University, School of Nursing, Taipei, Taiwan.

Accepted for publication April 10, 2003.

This research was funded by the ONS Foundation through an unrestricted grant from the Roxane Laboratories, Inc. and Mary Lewis, Manager Palliative Care Education.

This research was derived from the author’s doctoral dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Ruth McCorkle, PhD, FAAN, Professor and Director of Doctoral Program, School of Nursing at Yale University.

The author thanks the staff of Yale New Haven Hospital, VA Hospital, Hospital of Saint Raphael, Hartford Hospital, and VNA Home Care HOPE program, for their help in facilitating recruitment of study participants.

Corresponding author: Siew Tzuh Tang, RN, DNSc, National Yang-Ming University, School of Nursing, # 155, Sec. 2, Li-Nong Street, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.