Place of death in rural palliative care: A systematic review

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There have been many studies on the actual and preferred place of care and death of palliative patients; however, most have been whole population surveys and/or urban focused. Data and preferences for terminally ill rural patients and their unofficial carers have not been systematically described.


To describe the actual place of death and preferred place of care and/or death in rural palliative care settings.


A systematic mixed studies review using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines.

Data source:

PubMed, PsychINFO, Scopus and CINAHL databases were searched (September to December 2014); eligible quantitative and qualitative studies included preferred and/or actual place of death/care of rural, regional or remote residents; rural data that are clearly identifiable; death due to palliative condition (malignant and non-malignant) or survey of participants with current or hypothetical life-limiting illness.


A total of 25 studies described actual place of death; 12 preferred place of care or death (2 studies reported both); most deaths occurred in hospital with home as the preferred place of care/death; however qualitative studies suggest that preferences are not absolute; factors associated with place are not adequately described as rurality was an independent variable; significant heterogeneity (rural setting and participants), however, many areas had a greater chance of home death than in cities; rural data are embedded in population reports rather than from specific rural studies.


Home is the preferred place of rural death; however, more work is needed to explore influencing factors, absolute importance of preferences and experience of providing and receiving palliative care in rural hospitals which often function as substitute hospice.

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