March 17, 2009

Religious Belief Linked to Desire for Aggressive Treatment in Terminal Patients

Religious Belief Linked to Desire for Aggressive Treatment in Terminal Patients
Terminally ill cancer patients who drew comfort from religion were far more likely to seek aggressive, life-prolonging care in the week before they died than were less religious patients and far more likely to want doctors to do everything possible to keep them alive, a study has found.

The patients who were devout were three times as likely as less religious ones to be put on a mechanical ventilator to maintain breathing during the last week of life, and they were less likely to do any advance care planning, like signing a do-not-resuscitate order, preparing a living will or creating a health care proxy, the analysis found.
The NYT article speculates further as to why this is: citing "to religious people, life is sacred and santified and there's a sense that it's their duty and obligation to stay alive as long as possible."

Really? I can think of a confounding factor in this study. Perhaps there's an independent factor that is influencing the choice for terminal patients to meticulously conduct advance care planning... perhaps there's another reason why some patients are more accepting of the limitations of their physicians.

Maybe they know better. They know that Docs aren't Gods. We all come to the end of our ropes at some time or another. Is a hospital bed really the place where you want to die if you had the choice? Hospice is a better option. Home hospice is even better, in my opinion.

I think that this attitude reflects a level of higher intellect and critical thinking (on average) among the less devout patients who use rational thought to guide their everyday lives rather than blind faith and misplaced hope.

I do realize that I'm a bit biased since I consider myself a part of this group. No offense, religious peeps.

1 comment:

  1. The press if full of these speculative articles, it's a shame