Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Abstract Background End-of-life care attracts major policy interest. Place of death is an important metric of individual experience and health system performance. Most people prefer to die at home, but hospital is the most common place of death in high-income countries. Little is known about international trends in place of death over time. Methods We aimed to collate population-level data on place of death in Europe from 2005 to 2017, and to evaluate association with national characteristics and policy choices. We sought data on hospital as the place of death from the 32 European Economic Area countries. We identified national economic, societal, demographic and health system predictors from Eurostat, OECD and the WHO. We analyzed these cross-national panel data using linear regression with panel-corrected standard errors. Results Our analytic dataset included 30 countries accounting for over 95% of Europe’s population. Average national proportion of deaths occurring in hospital in the study period ranged from 26% to 68%, with a median of 52%. Trends vary markedly by region and wealth, with low and decreasing rate in the North–West, and high and increasing prevalence in the South and East. Controlling for demographic and economic factors, strong palliative care provision and generous government finance of long-term care were associated with fewer hospital deaths. Conclusions We found modifiable policy choices associated with hospital mortality, as well as wider structural economic and societal factors. Policymakers can act to reduce the proportion of dying in hospital.

Original publication




Journal article


European Journal of Public Health


Oxford University Press (OUP)

Publication Date





1176 - 1183