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To assess the effectiveness of home-based palliative care (HBPC) on reducing hospital visits and whether HBPC lowered health care cost.
We searched six bibliographic databases (Embase (Ovid); Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials; Medline (Ovid); PubMed; Web of Science Core Collection; and, CINAHL) until February 2019 and performed a narrative synthesis of our findings.
Of the 1,426 identified references, 21 articles based on 19 unique studies met our inclusion criteria, which involved 92,000 participants. In both oncological and non-oncological patients, HBPC consistently reduced the number of hospital visits and their length, as well as hospitalization costs and overall health care costs. Even though home-treated patients consumed more outpatient resources, a higher saving in the hospital costs counterbalanced this. The reduction in overall health care costs was most noticeable for study periods closer to death, with greater reductions in the last 2 months, last month, and last two weeks of life.
Significance of results
Stakeholders should recognize HBPC as an intervention that decreases patient care costs at end of life and therefore health care providers should assess the preferences of patients nearing the end-of-life to identify those who will benefit most from HBPC.
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