Keeping end-of-life patients at home comes at a high cost to families

QUEBEC CITY, Feb. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Keeping end-of-life patients at home comes at a high cost to families, according to a Canada-wide study supervised by Université Laval professor Serge Dumont. The study results published in a recent edition of the scientific journal Palliative Medicine reveal that this practice can lead families to take on more than 25% of the costs associated with end-of-life care, with the average bill totaling nearly $5,000.

"In Canada over the past 20 years, keeping end-of-life patients at home has been promoted and encouraged through the implementation of integrated palliative care programs," says Dumont, who is also director of Université Laval's School of Social Work. "However, from a perspective of fairness and social justice, caring for a gravely ill person at home should not compromise a household's financial security," adds the researcher.

The 248 study participants were drawn from five Canadian cities (Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Victoria). Participants all lived at home and were looked after by someone in their families. Through a series of telephone interviews spanning six months, researchers asked participants to provide information on the type and quantity of goods and services used and the suppliers. Based on the information obtained, researchers determined that the total average cost of care was $18,446, and that 71.3% of it was covered by the healthcare system, 26.6% by the family of the end-of-life patient, and 1.6% by not-for-profit organizations.

The study was carried out in urban centers where integrated palliative care programs are available to patients. According to Dumont, only about 10% of Canada's population has access to these services. "Where palliative care programs do not exist, the financial burden may weigh more heavily upon families," he points out. "That's why we should also be looking at patients from rural areas where access to care and services is sometimes more limited," concludes the professor.

This study was co-authored by Donna Anderson, Véronique Turcotte, and François Harel from Université Laval as well as Philips Jacobs and Konrad Fassbender from the University of Alberta. It was funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

SOURCE Université Laval

For further information: For further information: Serge Dumont, Faculty of Social Sciences, Université Laval, (418) 656-2371, serge.dumont@svs.ulaval.ca; Source: Jean-François Huppé, Media Relations, Université Laval, (418) 656-7785, jean-francois.huppe@dc.ulaval.ca

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