Research

One-year mortality after hospital admission as an indicator of palliative care need: A retrospective cohort study

P Frankenfeld, L van Niekerk, K Manning, N Tiffin, Peter Raubenheimer

Abstract


Background. Globally there is increasing awareness of the need for end-of-life care and palliative care in hospitalised patients who are in their final year of life. Limited data are available on palliative care requirements in low- and middle-income countries, hindering the design and implementation of effective policies and health services for these patients.

Objectives. To determine the proportion of patients who die within 1 year of their date of admission to public hospitals in South Africa (SA), as a proxy for palliative care need in SA.

Methods. This was a retrospective cohort study using record linkage of admission and mortality data. The setting was 46 acute-care public hospitals in Western Cape Province, SA.

Results. Of 10 761 patients (median (interquartile range (IQR)) age 44 (31 - 60) years) admitted to the 46 hospitals over a 2-week period in March 2012, 1 570 (14.6%) died within 1 year, the majority within the first 3 months. Mortality rose steeply with age. The median (IQR) age of death was 57.5 (45 - 70) years. A greater proportion of patients admitted to medical beds died within 1 year (21.3%) compared with those admitted to surgical beds (7.7%).

Conclusions. Despite a median age <60 years at admission, a substantial percentage of patients admitted to public sector hospitals in SA are in the final year of their lives. This finding should be seen in the context of SA’s high communicable and non-communicable disease burden and resource-limited public health system, and highlights the need for policy development, planning and implementation of end-of-life and palliative care strategies for hospitals and patients.

 


Authors' affiliations

P Frankenfeld, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

L van Niekerk, Department of Global Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

K Manning, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

N Tiffin, Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology Research, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Health Impact Assessment Directorate, Provincial Health Data Centre, Western Cape Department of Health, Cape Town, South Africa

Peter Raubenheimer, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Keywords

Palliative care; Terminal care; End-of-life care; Mortality; Inpatients; Hospitalisation

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(11):1070-1073. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i11.15869

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-11-05
Date published: 2021-11-05

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