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Changes in mortality patterns and place of death during the COVID-19 pandemic: A descriptive analysis of mortality data across four nations.

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Finucane, Anne M 
McAleese, Jenny 


BACKGROUND: Understanding patterns of mortality and place of death during the COVID-19 pandemic is important to help provide appropriate services and resources. AIMS: To analyse patterns of mortality including place of death in the United Kingdom (UK) (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) during the COVID-19 pandemic to date. DESIGN: Descriptive analysis of UK mortality data between March 2020 and March 2021. Weekly number of deaths was described by place of death, using the following definitions: (1) expected deaths: average expected deaths estimated using historical data (2015-19); (2) COVID-19 deaths: where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate; (3) additional non-COVID-19 deaths: above expected but not attributed to COVID-19; (4) baseline deaths: up to and including expected deaths but excluding COVID-19 deaths. RESULTS: During the analysis period, 798,643 deaths were registered in the UK, of which 147,282 were COVID-19 deaths and 17,672 were additional non-COVID-19 deaths. While numbers of people who died in care homes and hospitals increased above expected only during the pandemic waves, the numbers of people who died at home remained above expected both during and between the pandemic waves, with an overall increase of 41%. CONCLUSIONS: Where people died changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increase in deaths at home during and between pandemic waves. This has implications for planning and organisation of palliative care and community services. The extent to which these changes will persist longer term remains unclear. Further research could investigate whether this is reflected in other countries with high COVID-19 mortality.



COVID-19, mortality, Palliative care, pandemics, place of death, residential facilities, terminal care

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Palliative Medicine

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SAGE Publications