Care and Decision-Making at the End of Life for Patients With a Non-Western Migration Background Living in The Netherlands: A Nationwide Mortality Follow-Back Study

Marieke Torensma*, Jeanine L. Suurmond, Agnes van der Heide, Bregje D. Onwuteaka-Philipsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Context: Migrant populations across Europe are aging and will increasingly need end-of-life care. Objective: The objectives of this study were to gain insight into end-of-life care and decision-making for patients with a non-western migration background and assess differences compared to patients with a Dutch or western migration background. Methods: A mortality follow-back study was conducted using a stratified sample of death certificates of persons who died between August and December 2015, obtained from the central death registry of Statistics Netherlands. Questionnaires were sent to the attending physician (n = 9351; response 78%). Patients aged ≥18 years who died a nonsudden death were included in this study (n = 5327). Results: Patients with a non-western migration background are more likely than patients with a Dutch or western migration background to be admitted to and die in hospital (51.6% vs. 33.9% [OR 1.74; 95% CI 1.26–2.41]; 39.1% vs. 20.1% [OR 1.96; 95% CI 1.39–2.78]); less likely to receive morphine or morphine-like medication and continuous deep sedation (72.8% vs. 80.1% [OR 0.62; 95% CI 0.43–0.89]; 16.8% vs. 25.2% [OR 0.52; 95% CI 0.34–0.80]); and more likely to receive end-of-life care that, according to physicians, is directed at curation for too long (6.8% vs. 1.7% [OR 3.61; 95% CI 1.83–7.12]). End-of-life decisions are made less frequently for patients with a non-western migration background (71.6% vs. 79.2% [OR 0.64; 95% CI 0.45–0.91]). Characteristics of decision-making are similar. Conclusion: End-of-life care for patients with a non-western migration background focuses more, or longer on maximum, curative treatment and end-of-life decisions are made less often.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)990-1000.e5
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

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