The association between home healthcare and burdensome transitions at the end-of-life in people with dementia: A 12-year nationwide population-based cohort study

Ping Jen Chen*, Chung Han Ho, Jung Yu Liao, Lisanne Smits, Chao A. Hsiung, Sang Ju Yu, Kai Ping Zhang, Irene Petersen, Elizabeth L. Sampson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: For people with dementia, burdensome transitions may indicate poorer-quality end-of-life care. Little is known regarding the association between home healthcare (HHC) and these burdensome transitions. We aimed to investigate the impact of HHC on transitions and hospital/intensive care unit (ICU) utilisation nearing the end-of-life for people with dementia at a national level. Methods: A nested case-control analysis was applied in a retrospective cohort study using a nationwide electronic records database. We included people with new dementia diagnoses who died during 2002–2013 in whole population data from the universal healthcare system in Taiwan. Burdensome transitions were defined as multiple hospitalisations in the last 90 days (early transitions, ET) or any hospitalisation or emergency room visit in the last three days of life (late transitions, LT). People with (cases) and without (controls) burdensome transitions were matched on a ratio of 1:2. We performed conditional logistic regression with stratified analyses to estimate the adjusted odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of the risks of transitions. Results: Among 150,125 people with new dementia diagnoses, 61,399 died during follow-up, and 31.1% had burdensome transitions (50% were early and 50% late). People with ET had the highest frequency of admissions and longer stays in hospital/ICU during their last year of life, while people with LT had fewer hospital/ICU utilisation than people without end-of-life transitions. Receiving HHC was associated with an increased risk of ET (OR = 1.14, 95 % CI: 1.08–1.21) but a decreased risk of LT (OR = 0.89, 95 % CI 0.83–0.94). In the people receiving HHC, however, those who received longer duration (e.g., OR = 0.50, 95 % CI: 0.42–0.60, >365 versus ≤30 days) or more frequent HHC or HHC delivered closer to the time of death were associated with a remarkably lower risk of ET. Conclusions: HHC has differential effects on early and late transitions. Characteristics of HHC such as better continuity or interdisciplinary coordination may reduce the risk of transitions at the end-of-life. We need further studies to understand the longitudinal effects of HHC and its synergy with palliative care, as well as the key components of HHC that achieve better end-of-life outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9255
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 2
Externally publishedYes


  • Dementia
  • End-of-life
  • Home healthcare
  • Hospitalisation
  • National health program
  • Palliative care
  • Patient transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'The association between home healthcare and burdensome transitions at the end-of-life in people with dementia: A 12-year nationwide population-based cohort study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this