• Vol. 27 No. 6, 824–829
  • 15 November 1998

A Descriptive Study of the Demography, Symptomology, Management and Outcome of the First 300 Patients Admitted to an Independent Hospice in Singapore



The aims of this study were: 1) to describe the demography, symptomology, investigations conducted, non-pharmacological interventions and outcome of patients admitted to an inpatient hospice and 2) to identify the nursing and medical needs of terminally ill patients. Casenotes of the first 300 patients admitted to Dover Park Hospice were studied retrospectively. There were 159 men and 141 women making up 325 admissions. The racial distribution was: Chinese 95.0%, Malays 3.0%, Indians 1.3% and Others 0.6%. Two-thirds of the men (64.2%) had spouses while 44.7% of the women were widowed. The mean age was 64.7 years. The 3 most common cancers were lung (21.7%), colorectal (14.6%) and hepatobiliary (12.5%). A proportion of patients (39.5%) were not known to have any metastases. Most patients were referred from hospitals and the home-care based Hospice Care Association. The commonest reason for admission was for “terminal care” (57.2%). At admission, only 38% of the patients were aware of their diagnoses and prognosis while 30% did not know either.

The average length of stay was 25 days with 7.7% of patients having more than one admission. The most common symptoms were pain, anorexia, breathlessness, insomnia, constipation and dry skin. Non-pharmacological interventions ranged from manual evacuation of the rectum to transfers to tertiary hospitals for surgery and other more invasive interventions. Many patients also attended day-care activities (23.1%). Outcome of the 325 admissions were as follows: went home 20%, died in the hospice 73.2%, went home to die 4.9% and others 1.8%.

Modern society views death as an aberration which has to be postponed and, if possible, prevented at all cost. Death is just unacceptable and cannot be regarded as a natural process of life.

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