Table 3

Average weekly change in the rate of unplanned hospitalisations throughout the last year of life, by illness trajectory

Relative incidence rate ratio (95% CIs)*
52–40 weeks
before death
39–27 weeks
before death
26–14 weeks
before death
13–1 weeks

before death†
Overall‡1.0 (Ref)1.0 (Ref)1.0 (Ref)1.0 (Ref)
 Cancer1.01 (1.01 to 1.02)1.01 (1.01 to 1.02)1.01 (1.01 to 1.02)0.97 (0.96 to 0.97)
 Organ failure1.00 (0.99 to 1.00)1.00 (0.99 to 1.00)1.00 (0.99 to 1.00)1.04 (1.03 to 1.04)
 Prolonged dwindling0.99 (0.98 to 0.99)0.99 (0.98 to 1.00)0.99 (0.98 to 1.00)0.97 (0.96 to 0.97)
 Sudden death1.00 (0.98 to 1.02)0.99 (0.97 to 1.00)0.99 (0.98 to 1.00)1.12 (1.11 to 1.13)
  • *Adjusted relative incidence rate ratio for the interaction between illness trajectory time, obtained from a log binomial model adjusted for sex, age, education, marital status, frailty, number of chronic diseases, polypharmacy. Decedents with missing data about education (2.1% of total) were excluded from this analysis. Robust SEs were used to estimate the 95% CIs. Relative incidence rate ratios can be interpreted as follow: the risk of unplanned hospitalisation among older people who follow a given illness trajectory changes in average at a faster (eg, 1.12 times faster) or slower (eg, 0.97 times slower) rate, considering the earliest week within the period (ie, week52, week39, week26, week13) as the reference time point, than it does on average in the overall study population.

  • †Week 1 corresponds to the last week before death.

  • ‡The total study population was used as the reference category to compare the risks across illness trajectories to the average risk in the cohort.