A new report from charity Sue Ryder suggests that people would choose to die in pain so they could spend their last few days of life at home.
More than three fifths of people polled by the charity and think tank Demos said they wanted to die at home and 78% said pain relief was a top priority for them.
But only 27% of the 2,000 people across the UK who were questioned felt that home was a place where they could be pain-free during their final days.
Paul Woodward, chief executive at Sue Ryder, said: "We are concerned that government and decision-makers are using 'dying at home' as a proxy for quality. This is not good enough. Dying at home does not always guarantee a good death.
"We need to start talking about how people want to die, not just where. Without a clear understanding of what people really want when it comes to care at the end of their lives, we can't determine whether or not existing support meets their needs.
Claudia Wood, deputy director of Demos, added: "For years health professionals and the Government have been striving to make sure people die in their preferred place - often at home.
"But a blinkered focus on dying at home has meant other settings, such as hospitals, haven't improved what they offer people at the end of life. It also leads us to an uncritical view of dying at home, when we know this can be difficult and traumatic. A well supported, high-quality experience should be on offer regardless of where someone dies."