In order to compile the index, the Economist Intelligence Unit interviewed experts around the world and reviewed existing research on the topic of end-of-life care for this white paper, which addresses issues relating to the quality of death as quantified by the index rankings.
While Portugal was ranked 31 overall, the UK tops the list.
According to researchers, Britain has led the way in terms of its hospice care network and statutory involvement in end-of-life care, and ranks top of 40 countries measured in the index. This is despite having a far-from-perfect healthcare system (indeed, it ranks 28th on the Basic End-of Life Healthcare Environment sub-category, which accounts for 20 percent of the overall score).
The Quality of Death Index measures the current environment for end-of life care services across 40 countries: 30 OECD nations and 10 select others for which data was available.
The UK’s position at the top of the Quality of Death ranking is explained in part by the head start it has had in the field. “The UK has perhaps had the longest period of sustained charitable development of hospices and, more recently, limited statutory involvement and investment,” says Sheila Payne, director of the IOELC at Lancaster University in England.
Moreover, the UK ranks top of the Quality of End-of-Life Care category, which includes indicators such as public awareness, training availability, access to pain killers and doctor-patient transparency. This is the most important category in the Index and accounts for 40 percent of the overall score.
Portugal performed best when it came to the cost of end of life care (22nd), and was ranked 27th for both its quality of end of life care and the basic end of life of care. However, it was third from bottom for the availability of end of life care, which gave it an overall rating of 31st.