Does the use of specialist palliative care services modify the effect of socioeconomic status on place of death? A systematic review

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Abstract

Background:

Cancer patients in lower socioeconomic groups are significantly less likely to die at home and experience more barriers to access to palliative care. It is unclear whether receiving palliative care may mediate the effect of socioeconomic status on place of death.

Aim:

This review examines whether and how use of specialist palliative care may modify the effect of socioeconomic status on place of death.

Design:

A systematic review was conducted. Eligible papers were selected and the quality appraised by two independent reviewers. Data were synthesised using a narrative approach.

Data sources:

MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Web of Knowledge were searched (1997-2013). Bibliographies were scanned and experts contacted. Papers were included if they reported the effect of both socioeconomic status and use of specialist palliative care on place of death for adult cancer patients.

Results:

Nine studies were included. All study subjects had received specialist palliative care. With regard to place of death, socioeconomic status was found to have (1) no effect in seven studies and (2) an effect in one study. Furthermore, one study found that the effect of socioeconomic status on place of death was only significant when patients received standard specialist palliative care. When patients received more intense care adapted to their needs, the effect of socioeconomic status on place of death was no longer seen.

Conclusion:

There is some evidence to suggest that use of specialist palliative care may modify the effect of socioeconomic status on place of death.

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