Our aims were to determine the extent of coverage by designated palliative care services of the population of terminally ill cancer patients in South Australia, and to identify the types of patients who receive these services and the types who do not. All designated hospice and palliative care services in South Australia notified to the State Cancer Registry the identifying details of all their patients who died in 1999. This information was cross-referenced with the data for all cancer deaths (n=3086) recorded on the registry for 1999. We found that the level of coverage by designated palliative services of patients who died with cancer in 1999 was 68.2%. This methodology was previously used to show that the level of coverage had increased from 55.8% for cancer deaths in 1990 to 63.1% for those in 1993. Patients who died at home had the largest coverage by palliative services (74.7%), whereas patients who died in nursing homes had the lowest coverage (48.4%). Patients who did not receive care from these palliative services tended to be 80 years of age or older at death, country residents, those with a survival time from diagnosis of three months or less, and those diagnosed with a prostate, breast, or haematological malignancy. Gender, socioeconomic status of residential area, and race were not related to coverage by a designated palliative service, whereas migrants to Australia from the UK, Ireland, and Southern Europe were relatively high users of these services. We conclude that the high level of palliative care coverage observed in this study reflects widespread support for the establishment of designated services. When planning future care, special consideration should be given to the types of patients who most miss out on these services.
- Palliative care
- Terminal care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine