The increase in the number of palliative care-related hospitalisations in Australia over the past four years has outpaced the growth in the number of overall hospitalisations.
Statistics released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on Wednesday morning show there was a 25.6 per cent increase in palliative care-related hospitalisations between 2012-13 and 2016-17.
Meanwhile, hospitalisations overall rose by 17.6 per cent in the same period.
"Although it's difficult to be definitive about the reasons for this rise, Australia's growing and ageing population - paired with a rise in chronic and incurable illnesses - has led to an increased need for palliative care," AIHW spokesperson Matthew James said.
The average age for those hospitalised for palliative care in 2016-17 was 73, with those over 75 making up a little over half of the hospitalisations and those under 55 accounting for one in 10.
Cancer was the main reason for palliative care, with 46.7 per cent of related hospitalisations involving the disease as the main diagnosis.
For some cancers, palliative care was a more common reason for hospitalisation than others: among hospitalisations for those with pancreatic cancer, almost one-third were palliative care-related.
Behind cancer, stroke and sepsis were the most common principal diagnoses.
Victoria had the second-highest rate of palliative care-related hospitalisations of all states and territories where public and private data was available.
Public hospitals accounted for the majority of palliative care-related hospitalisations.
Almost 85 per cent of such hospitalisations occurred in public hospitals, despite these hospitals only accounting for 59.8 per cent of all hospitalisations.
People in the lowest socioeconomic areas accounted for a higher proportion of palliative care hospitalisations in public hospitals than those living in other areas, while those in high socioeconomic areas had the lowest rates of such hospitalisations in public facilities.
The new figures have been released during National Palliative Care Week.
The Australian Medical Association has called on people to plan their end-of-life care and discuss it with their loved ones and doctors.
"It ensures you get the care you want, not the care you don't want, at the end of life, should you lose the capacity to make or communicate decisions," AMA president Dr Tony Bartone said.
Dr Bartone said it could involve family, friends, religious advisers and anyone else the person wanted involved.
"An advance care plan can be as informal as a verbal instruction, or a formal directive, medical enduring power of attorney, a letter, or an entry in the patient's medical record," he said.
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