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Preference for place of death in Germany

Background: Dying in the preferred place is considered a key requirement for a “good death.” The aims of our study were to explore preferred places of death of deceased people and their bereaved relatives in Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany). We further wanted to assess the congruence between preferred and actual place of death.

Methods: The cross-sectional study was based on a random sample of 5000 inhabitants of Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany) who died between May 25 and August 24, 2008. Relatives of these deceased persons were interviewed by a written survey.

Results: After removing duplicates, 4967 questionnaires were sent out, 3832 delivered, and 1378 completed, yielding a response rate of 36.0%. Regarding the deceased, 93.8% wanted to die at home, 0.7% in a hospital, 2.8% in palliative care, 2.4% in a nursing home, and 0.3% elsewhere. The figures for the relatives were 80.7%, 4.3%, 7.5%, 7.1%, and 0.5%, respectively. Of the deceased 58.9% and of the relatives 59.1% had their wish fulfilled. Logistic regression analysis revealed that living in a rural municipality (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 1.88; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02–3.43), rural town (aOR: 2.30; 95% CI: 1.17–4.49) or small town (aOR: 1.95; 95% CI: 1.04–3.68), having a nonworking relative (aOR: 1.79; 95% CI: 1.16–2.76), and living together with a relative (aOR: 2.28; 95% CI:1.57–3.32) increases the probability to die in the preferred place.

Discussion: Because the availability of a relative was the most important factor to die in the preferred place, relatives of dying people should be supported in providing informal care. The introduction of palliative home care teams should allow more people to die in their preferred place by easing the burden of informal carers.

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Journal Of Palliative Medicine

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