Experts say that the quality of life for terminal patients is better when they avoid hospital care.
Researchers have revealed that U.S. nursing-home residents in hospice care are almost half as likely to spend the final 30 days of their life in a hospital rather than residents who are not in hospice care.
Investigators at Brown Medical School in Providence, R.I., analyzed the data from around 184,000 nursing home residents in five states.
Study author Pedro Gozalo said, "Our study provides strong evidence that access to hospice care in nursing homes significantly reduces hospitalization."
He observed that people who choose hospice care often tend to refuse aggressive end-of-life treatment. Although this factor was a matter of consideration the study still revealed that hospice has a major role in preventing people from spending their last days in a hospital.
This is an important fact because being in hospital often has a negative impact on a person's quality of life in their final days. In additions this kind of hospital care can be expensive.
It was found that nursing home residents who receive hospice care are more likely to have cancer, be female, white and married. In addition the study also found that a nursing home's location affects its hospice enrolment. Nursing homes with hospice providers more than 15 miles away were found to have fewer residents in hospice care.
Gozalo said that in spite of 80 percent of U.S. nursing homes offering hospice care, there were still several factors that can affect access to these services. These include local health system policy, failure to identify residents who need hospice and financial incentives for nursing homes to continue providing skilled care.
The results of the findings have been published in current issue of Health Services Research.