Background Utilisation of hospice-palliative care (HPC) has increased steadily; however, little is known about trend or pattern of this use in Korea. We aimed to describe an overview of nationwide statistics on the utilisation of HPC service of terminal cancer patients in Korea.
Methods Data were collected through Korean Terminal Cancer Patient Information System from Hospice-Palliative Care Units (PCU) designated by Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare from 2008 to 2014. Descriptive statistics were used for the analysis. Trends were examined by annual percentage change and Cochran-Armitage test.
Results 56,433 patients used PCU for seven years. In 2008, only 19 hospitals (total 282 beds) were designated as PCU for terminal cancer patients by Korean government. With gradual increases, there were 57 designated PCU (total 950 beds) in 2014. The utilisation rate of PCU by terminal cancer patients increased from 7.3% of all cancer death in 2008 to 13.8% in 2014. The patients’ mean age was 67.1±12.9 years, and 57.3% were male. Lung cancer patients made up the largest percentage of PCU admission. Increasing trends were observed in patient’s awareness of terminal status from 67.3% in 2010 to 76.1% in 2014. Average length of stay was 23.3±27.0 days and 73.9% of discharged patients faced death in PCU.
Conclusions The number of terminal cancer patients received hospice care has steadily increased over the past several years in Korea. It is necessary to develop a variety of services that enhance the quality of end of life care by monitoring of hospice utilisation.
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