Purpose: This four-country study (Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain) examines prevalence and types of final transitions between care settings of cancer patients and the extent to which patient/family wishes are cited as a reason for the transition.
Methods: Data were collected from the EUROSENTI-MELC study over a 2-year period. General practitioners within existing Sentinel Networks registered weekly all deaths of patients within practices using a standardized questionnaire. This registration included place of care in the final 3 months and wishes for the final transition to place of death. All non-sudden deaths due to cancer (+18 years) were included in the analyses.
Results: We included 2048 non-sudden cancer deaths; 63% of patients had at least one transition between care settings in the final 3 months of life. 'Hospital death from home' (25-55%) and 'home death from hospital' (16-30%) were the most frequent types of final transitions in all countries. Patients' or families' wishes were mentioned as a reason for a final transition in 5-27% (P < 0.001) and 10-22% (P = 0.002) across countries.
Conclusions: 'Hospital deaths from home' is the most prevalent final transition in three of four countries studied, in a significant minority of cases because of patient/family wishes.