BMC Palliative Care (2018-01-01)

Increasing Trend in Hospital Deaths Consistent among Older Decedents in Korea: A Population-based Study Using Death Registration Database, 2001–2014

  • Tran Thi Xuan Mai,
  • Eunsook Lee,
  • Hyunsoon Cho,
  • Yoon Jung Chang

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 17, no. 1
pp. 1 – 10


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Abstract Background With improvement in hospice palliative care services and long-term care, Republic of Korea (hereafter South Korea) has recorded significant changes in places of death (e.g., hospital, home), especially among older adults. Over the last few decades, the most common places of death in South Korea were hospitals. However, Koreans, especially older adults, reportedly prefer to receive terminal care and eventually die at home. This study was conducted to investigate trends in places of death among older Korean adults and factors associated therewith. Methods Data were obtained from the Korean Death Registration Database maintained by the National Statistical Office. Decedents who died after the age of 65 years from 2001 to 2014 were included in the analysis. For descriptive analysis, proportions of places of death were analyzed and were used to plot graphs for visualizing trends during 13-year period. Logistic regression model was used to evaluate factors associated with places of death (hospital versus home). Results Two million three hundred fifty eight thousand two hundred eleven older adult decedents were included in final analysis. Hospitals were the most common places of death (57.82%), followed by homes (32.12%). Dying at social welfare facilities was rare (2.61%). A gradual increase in hospital deaths (31.38% in 2001 to 75.30% in 2014) and a subsequent decrease in home deaths (60.44% to 15.95% over the same period) were noted. Hospital deaths were more likely for younger patients (ORs 1.28, 95% CI 1.27-1.29), females (ORs 1.28, 95% CI 1.27-1.29), and single/divorced or widowed individuals (ORs 1.77, 1.49 and 1.03 respectively). A higher education level and living in urban areas were strongly associated with a higher likelihood of dying in a hospital. Conclusion Over the study period, there was a consistent increasing trend in hospital deaths in South Korea. Trends in place of death and factors associated therewith should be more intensely investigated and monitored. Resources and facilities should be increased to fulfill end-of-life care preferences and the needs of an increasingly older population in South Korea.