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Cancer patients have similar pain level at home, research suggests

12 October 2015

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Dying at home could be more peaceful, and similarly painful for terminally ill cancer patients compared to hospitals, according to new research.

According to 352 questionnaires completed by their relatives, those who die at home experience more peace and a similar amount of pain compared to those who die in hospital, plus their relatives also experience less grief.

However, the most frequent location of death for cancer patients is still a hospital.

The new study took place in four health districts in London covering 1.3 million residents – 352 bereaved relatives of cancer patients completed questionnaires after their death; 177 patients died in hospital and 175 died at home.

Lead author Barbara Gomes from the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London, UK, said: “This is the most comprehensive population-based study to date of factors and outcomes associated with dying at home compared to hospital. We know that many patients fear being at home believing they place an awful burden on their family. However, we found that grief was actually less intense for relatives of people who died at home.

“Many people with cancer justifiably fear pain. So it is encouraging that we observed patients dying at home did not experience greater pain than those in hospitals where access to pain relieving drugs may be more plentiful. They were also reported to have experienced a more peaceful death than those dying in hospital.”