Dying in hospital: : socioeconomic inequality trends in England
Cookson, Richard Andrew
- Publisher: SAGE Publications
Journal of Health Services Research & Policy,
(issn: 1355-8196, eissn: 1758-1060)
England | inequalities | place of death | England, inequalities, palliative care, place of death | Original Research | palliative care
OBJECTIVE: To describe trends in socioeconomic inequality in the proportion of deaths occurring in hospital, during a period of sustained effort by the NHS in England to improve end of life care.
METHODS: Whole-population, small area longitudinal study involving 5,260,871 patients of all ages who died in England from 2001/2002 to 2011/2012. Our primary measure of inequality was the slope index of inequality. This represents the estimated gap between the most and least deprived neighbourhood in England, allowing for the gradient in between. Neighbourhoods were geographic Lower Layer Super Output Areas containing about 1500 people each.
RESULTS: The overall proportion of patients dying in hospital decreased from 49.5% to 43.6% during the study period, after initially increasing to 52.0% in 2004/2005. There was substantial ‘pro-rich’ inequality, with an estimated difference of 5.95 percentage points in the proportion of people dying in hospital (confidence interval 5.26 to 6.63), comparing the most and least deprived neighbourhoods in 2011/2012. There was no significant reduction in this gap over time, either in absolute terms or relative to the mean, despite the overall reduction in the proportion of patients dying in hospital.
CONCLUSIONS: Efforts to reduce the proportion of patients dying in hospital in England have been successful overall but did not reduce inequality. Greater understanding of the reasons for such inequality is required before policy changes can be determined.