Physician Visits and Recognition of Residents' Terminal Phase in Long-Term Care Facilities: Findings From the PACE Cross-Sectional Study in 6 EU Countries

Published:October 23, 2018DOI:



      To describe the relation between physician visits and physicians' recognition of a resident's terminal phase in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) in Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland.


      In each country, a cross-sectional study was conducted across representative samples of LTCFs. Participating LTCFs reported all deaths of residents in the previous 3 months, and structured questionnaires were sent to several proxy respondents including the treating physician.

      Setting and Participants

      1094 residents in 239 LTCFs, about whom 505 physicians returned the questionnaire.


      Number of physician visits, the resident's main treatment goal, whether physicians recognized the resident's terminal phase and expected the resident's death, and resident and physician characteristics.


      The number of physician visits to residents varied widely between countries, ranging from a median of 15 visits in the last 3 months of life in Poland to 5 in England, and from 4 visits in the last week of life in the Netherlands to 1 in England. Among all countries, physicians from Poland and Italy were least inclined to recognize that the resident was in the terminal phase (63.0% in Poland compared to 80.3% in the Netherlands), and residents in these countries had palliation as main treatment goal the least (31.8% in Italy compared to 92.6% in the Netherlands). Overall however, there were positive associations between the number of physician visits and the recognition of the resident's terminal phase and between the number of physician visits and the resident having palliation as main treatment goal in the last week of life.

      Conclusions and Implications

      This study suggests that LTCFs should be encouraged to work collaboratively with physicians to involve them as much as possible in caring for their residents. Joint working will facilitate the recognition of a resident's terminal phase and the timely provision of palliative care.


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