End of life care and place of death in adults with serious mental illness: a systematic review and narrative synthesis

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Abstract

Background
People with serious mental illness have greater mortality risk than the general population. They experience health care inequalities throughout life; it is not clear if this persists to end of life.
Aim
Assess the empirical evidence describing end of life care and place of death for people with serious mental illness.
Design
A systematic review of original, peer-reviewed research, following PRISMA guidelines. Data were analysed using a narrative synthesis approach.
Data sources
Five online databases (Embase, PsycArticles, PsycInfo, Medline, PubMed) and additional sources were searched (without time restriction) for primary research reporting health care utilisation in the last year of life or place of death in adults with serious mental illness.
Results
After full text screening, 23 studies were included. We found studies reporting hospital admissions, emergency department care, palliative care and GP visits at end of life. We found conflicting evidence for the association between serious mental illness and end of life care, although different patient groups, settings and measures were used across studies. People with serious mental illness were more likely to die in care homes than the general population. There were no patterns for other places of death.
Conclusions
The evidence was sparse and heterogeneous, demonstrating variability in patterns and reporting of health care use and with little consensus on where people with serious mental illness are likely to die. Given that people with serious mental illness have increased mortality risk, this gap in the knowledge around end of life care outcomes is concerning; this area of research needs further development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-68
Number of pages20
JournalPalliative Medicine
Volume34
Issue number1
Early online date14 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • death
  • delivery of health care
  • Mental disorders
  • systematic review
  • terminal care

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