Care dependency of patients and residents at the end of life: A secondary data analysis of data from a cross-sectional study in hospitals and geriatric institutions

G. Schuttengruber*, R.J.G. Halfens, C. Lohrmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Aims and objectives The holistic care dependency concept can be applied to gain comprehensive insights into individuals' care needs in the end-of-life (EoL) phase. This study was carried out to measure and characterise the "care dependency" phenomenon in this phase and to obtain deeper knowledge about this phenomenon.Background The end of a human life is often characterised by a physical decline, often implying that a high amount of care is needed. Non-malignant diseases can develop unpredictably; therefore, it is difficult to detect the onset of the EoL phase.Design Data were collected in a cross-sectional multicentre study, using the Austrian Nursing Quality Measurement 2.0.Methods Descriptive and multivariate statistical methods were used. Care dependency was measured with the Care Dependency Scale (CDS). The study follows the STROBE guideline.Results Ten per cent (n = 389) of the sample (N = 3589) were allocated to "a pathway for management of patients at the end of life." The patients and residents in the EoL phase are significantly older and more often diagnosed with dementia, and circulatory system and musculoskeletal system diseases. Of these patients, 60% were care dependent completely or to a great extent. Dementia and age represent main influencing factors that affect the degree of care dependency at the end of life.Conclusion Our results show that the "typical" EoL patient or resident is female, old and affected by dementia and/or circulatory system diseases. Dementia and age were identified as main factors that contribute to very high care dependency.Relevance to clinical practice The measurement of care dependency may support the identification of special care needs in the EoL phase. Gaining deeper knowledge about the care dependency phenomenon can also help healthcare staff better understand the needs of patients with non-malignant conditions in their last phase of life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-668
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number5-6
Early online date20 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • care dependency
  • Care Dependency Scale
  • end of life
  • EoL care
  • geriatric palliative care
  • palliative
  • palliative care

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