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More terminally ill choosing to die at home, report finds

March 14, 2011

When asked, most Americans say they?d rather die at home than in a hospital. A government report suggests that?s happening more than in the past, though nearly 40% of deaths still occur in hospitals -- a shift that experts say has been fueled by a greater acceptance and availability of hospice care. The percentage of at-home deaths increased to one-fourth in 2007, from one-sixth in 1989, according to the report by the National Center for Health Statistics. The figure would be higher if the National Center for Health Statistics had included nursing homes in its definition of dying at home, as many experts do, since 28% of people over 65 died there in 2007. Chris Feudtner, MD, lead author of a 2008 study that observed a similar shift in where children die, said there?s been a "sea change" over the past two decades, not in people?s attitudes about dying, but in the use of at-home hospice care.

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