International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 257–267 | Cite as

Where do people die? An international comparison of the percentage of deaths occurring in hospital and residential aged care settings in 45 populations, using published and available statistics

  • Joanna B. BroadEmail author
  • Merryn Gott
  • Hongsoo Kim
  • Michal Boyd
  • He Chen
  • Martin J. Connolly
Original Article



Place of death, specifically the percentage who die in hospital or residential aged care, is largely unreported. This paper presents a cross-national comparison of location of death information from published reports and available data.


Reports of deaths occurring in hospitals, residential aged care facilities, and other locations for periods since 2001 were compiled.


Over 16 million deaths are reported in 45 populations. Half reported 54 % or more of all deaths occurred in hospitals, ranging from Japan (78 %) to China (20 %). Of 21 populations reporting deaths of older people, a median of 18 % died in residential aged care, with percentages doubling with each 10-year increase in age, and 40 % higher among women.


This place of death study includes more populations than any other known. In many populations, residential aged care was an important site of death for older people, indicating the need to optimise models of end-of-life care in this setting. For many countries, more standardised reporting of place of death would inform policies and planning of services to support end-of-life care.


Location of death End-of-life care Health services for the aged Cross-national research Palliative care Service utilisation Epidemiology Health services research 



We are extremely appreciative to the generous and helpful staffs of official information departments and ministries who have cooperated in providing information in emails, tables and online databases. We also acknowledge academics that assisted in sourcing data, including Dr. Silmara Gusso at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and Dr. Heidy Leiva, Rancagua Regional Hospital, Chile. With one exception, all data were obtained without charge. We are also particularly grateful to Ann Peut also at AIHW, Canberra, who provided very valuable comments and assistance on several drafts of this paper. The Freemasons’ Department of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Auckland is supported by longstanding endowments and grants from Freemasons New Zealand and the Freemasons’ Roskill Foundation. Joanna Broad’s appointment is supported by grant 10/373 from the Health Research Council of New Zealand.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna B. Broad
    • 1
    Email author
  • Merryn Gott
    • 2
  • Hongsoo Kim
    • 3
  • Michal Boyd
    • 1
  • He Chen
    • 4
  • Martin J. Connolly
    • 1
  1. 1.Freemasons’ Department of Geriatric MedicineUniversity of AucklandTakapunaNew Zealand
  2. 2.School of NursingUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Graduate School of Public Health, Institute of Health and EnvironmentSeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea
  4. 4.Institute of Population ResearchPeking UniversityBeijingChina

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