Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

BMC Geriatrics







First Page


Last Page


PubMed ID



Springer Nature


School of Nursing and Midwifery




Chróinín, D. N., Goldsbury, D. E., Beveridge, A., Davidson, P. M., Girgis, A., Ingham, N., ... & O’Connell, D. L. (2018). Health-services utilisation amongst older persons during the last year of life: a population-based study. BMC geriatrics, 18(1), 317.

Available here.


BACKGROUND: Accurate population-based data regarding hospital-based care utilisation by older persons during their last year of life are important in health services planning. We investigated patterns of acute hospital-based service use at the end of life, amongst older decedents in New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

METHODS: Data from all persons aged ≥70 years who died in the state of NSW Australia in 2007 were included. Several measures of hospital-based service utilisation during the last year of life were assessed from retrospectively linked data comprising data for all registered deaths, cause of death, hospital care during the last year of life (NSW Admitted Patient Data Collection [APDC] and Emergency Department [ED] Data Collection [EDDC]), and the NSW Cancer Registry.

RESULTS: Amongst 34,556 decedents aged ≥70 years, 82% (n = 28,366) had ≥1 hospitalisation during the last year of life (median 2), and 21% > 3 hospitalisations. Twenty-five percent (n = 5485) of decedents attended ED during the last week of life. Overall, 21% had a hospitalisation > 30 days in the last year of life, and 7% spent > 3 months in hospital; 79% had ≥1 ED attendance, 17% > 3. Nine percent (n = 3239) spent time in an intensive care unit. Fifty-three percent (n = 18,437) died in an inpatient setting. Hospital records had referenced palliative care for a fifth (7169) of decedents. Adjusting for age group, sex, place of residence, area-level socioeconomic status, and cause of death, having > 3 hospitalisations during the last year of life was more likely for persons dying from cancer (35% versus 16% non-cancer deaths, adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.33), 'younger' old decedents (29% for age 70-79 and 20% for age 80-89 versus 11% for 90+, aOR 2.42 and 1.77 respectively) and males (25% versus 17% females, aOR 1.38). Patterns observed for other hospital-based service use were similar.

CONCLUSIONS: This population-based study reveals high use of hospital care among older persons during their last year of life, although this decreased with increasing older age, providing important data to inform health services planning for this population, and highlighting aspects requiring further study.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.