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Social determinants of duration of last nursing home stay at the end of life in Switzerland: a retrospective cohort study

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Hedinger Damian, Haemmig Oliver, Braun Julia, Bopp Matthias,
Project Multimorbidity and pathways of inpatient care at the end-of-life: a national study in Switzerland
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal BMC Geriatrics
Volume (Issue) 15
Page(s) 114
Title of proceedings BMC Geriatrics
DOI 10.1186/s12877-015-0111-3

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Background Due to demographic ageing and increasing life expectancy, a growing demand for long-term nursing home care can be expected. Stays in nursing homes appear to be more socially determined than hospital stays. We therefore looked at the impact of socio-demographic and health care variables on the length of the last nursing home stay. Methods Nationwide individual data from nursing homes and hospitals in Switzerland were linked with census and mortality records. Gender-specific negative binomial regression models were used to analyze N = 35,739 individuals with an admission age of at least 65 years and deceased in 2007 or 2008 in a nursing home. Results Preceding death, men spent on average 790 days and women 1250 days in the respective nursing home. Adjusted for preceding hospitalizations, care level, cause of death and multimorbidity, a low educational level, living alone or being tenant as well as a low care level at the admission time increased the risk for longer terminal stays. Conversely, a high educational level, being homeowner, being married as well as a high care level at the admission time decreased the risk for longer stays. Discussion The length of the last nursing home stay before death was not only dependent on health-related factors alone, but also substantially depended on socio-demographic determinants such as educational level, homeownership or marital status. The support of elderly people at the admission time of a presumably following nursing home stay should be improved and better evaluated in order to reduce unnecessary and undesired long terminal nursing home stays. Conclusions Health policy should aim at diminishing the role of situational, non-health-related factors in order to empower people to spend the last years before death according to individual needs and preferences.