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Policy for home or hospice as the preferred place of death from cancer: Scottish Health and Ethnicity Linkage Study population cohort shows challenges across all ethnic groups in Scotland
  1. Katharine H Sharpe1,
  2. Genevieve Cezard2,
  3. Narinder Bansal2,
  4. Raj S Bhopal2 and
  5. David H Brewster1,2
  1. 1Information Services Division, NHS National Services Scotland, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Centre for Population Health Sciences Edinburgh University Medical School, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Katharine Sharpe, Information Services Division, NHS National Services Scotland, Gyle Square, 1 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9EB, UK; Katharine.sharpe{at}


Background Place of cancer death varies ethnically and internationally. Palliative care reviews highlight limited ability to demonstrate equal access due to incomplete or unreliable ethnicity data.

Aim To establish place of cancer death by ethnicity and describe patient characteristics.

Design We linked census, hospital episode and mortality data for 117 467 persons dying of cancer, 2001–2009. With White Scottish population as reference, prevalence ratios (PR), 95% CIs and p values of death in hospital, home or hospice adjusted for sex and age were calculated by ethnic group.

Results White Scottish group and minority ethnic groups combined constituted 91% and 0.4% of cancer deaths, respectively. South Asian, Chinese and African Origin patients were youngest at death (66, 66 and 65.9 years). Compared with the Scottish White reference, the White Irish (1.15 (1.10 to 1.22), p<0.0001) and Other White British (1.07 (1.02 to 1.12), p=0.003) groups were more likely to die at home. Generally, affluent Scottish White patients were less likely to die in hospital and more likely to die at home or in a hospice regardless of socioeconomic indicator used.

Conclusions Cancer deaths occur most often in hospital (52.3%) for all ethnic groups. Regardless of the socioeconomic indicator used, more affluent Scottish White patients were less likely to die in hospital; existing socioeconomic indicators detected no clear trend for the non-White population. Regardless of ethnic group, significant work is required to achieve more people dying at home or the setting of their choice.

  • Cancer
  • Home care
  • Hospice care
  • Hospital care
  • Terminal care

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