Objectives: In Japan, hospitals have replaced homes as the predominant site of death, especially for the elderly. Site of death is a reliable indicator of where older people receive care before they die. We conducted a population-based study to identify the factors that determine site of death in a typical rural area in Japan. Methods: Study subjects were residents of Kawakami town, aged 70 years or older, who died during 1981 and 1990. Death certificates provided information on age, gender, cause of death, duration of illness before death, family members, family occupation, and site of death. Results: Among 455 subjects, 52.7% died at home, while 47.3% died in hospital. Multiple logistic regression analyses indicated that subjects with cancer were 6.1 times more likely to die in hospitals than those with other diseases. Subjects who died in their seventies were 2.3 times more likely to die in hospital than older subjects. Members of non-farming families were 1.7 times more likely to die in hospital than members of farming families. Gender, duration of illness, and the presence of spouse or children in the household were not significantly related to site of death according to multivariate analyses, although trends did exist. Conclusion: This case study illustrates the importance of developing geriatric care systems in Japan, utilizing alternatives to hospitals, such as nursing homes and formal home care. This is particularly true for patients with cancer. As the older population rapidly increases in Japan, the need for alternatives in geriatric care grows more critical.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health