Dying at a favorite place is one of the important determinants for terminally ill cancer patients. The primary aim was to clarify (1) differences in preferred place of care and place of death among the general public across four areas across Japan and (2) preferred place of care and place of death among community-representative cancer patients. A cross-sectional mail survey was conducted on 8,000 randomly selected general population. We examined preferred place of care and place of death using two vignettes and obtained a total of 3,984 (50%) responses. For the pain scenario, approximately 50% of the general public throughout four areas chose home as their preferred place of care; and for the dependent-without-pain scenario, about 40% chose home as preferred place of care. In cancer patients, for both scenarios, approximately 40% chose home as the preferred place of care, and they were significantly less likely to choose home. The most preferred combination of place of care and place of death was home hospice for both groups. Although there were statistically significant differences in preferred place of care and place of death among the four regions, the absolute difference was less than 8%. Independent determinants of choosing home as place of care included concern about family burden and being unable to adequately respond to sudden changes out of working hours. In conclusion, establishing more accessible home and hospice service is strongly required through arranging regional resources to reduce family burden, alleviating patient-perceived burdens, and improving 24-h support at home.
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