Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Devout Terminally Ill Want More Aggressive Treatment

A interesting news report on AMA morning rounds fna first reported in the New York Times reported: "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 less religious patients." Research done by Holly Prigerson of Harvard and Dana-Farber seemed to contradict what some think is true that spiritual patients are more likely to have more peace at end of life. She said that these people think that life is sacred and they are letting God down. A number of other studies have shown similiar results. The current study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and adds that "faith in a higher power can often lead to more aggressive treatment than is medically warrented." Most of the participants were Christian and it showed that the highly devout were three times more likely to receive intensive medical procedures and also made fewer preparations for death. It was noted in the study that the religious coping was significantly associated with being black, hispanic and tended to be younger, less educated, less likely to be insured, less likely to be married and more likely to been recruited from sites in Texas than those that are less religious in coping. The authors hypothesized that "highly religious patients may choose aggressive therapies, because they believe that God could use the therapy to provide divine healing, or they hoped for a miraculous cure while intensive medical care prolongs life." My thoughts however, are that less educated due tend to be minorities, so I don't think race is that big of a deal. But more uneducated and superstitous they are the more they tend to be afraid of the unknown, maybe more. So they hold on to the myth and maybe they really are afraid that they are either going to hell, or they really isn't anything after death, therefore want to live as long as possible. The belief they profess is like Pascals wadger and they are hedging their bets. As far as life being sacred, yes theirs! Either way it is an interesting study. Should we be more sensitive when talking to the terminally ill and gain their trust, as what the conclusion of the paper says, in hopes of not doing futile and expensive life prolonging therapies, I don't know if that will work. Fear and Superstition are powereful psychological drivers. How will I act when and if I get into that same type of situation? I don't know. But I do have a living will and a regular will. Enough said.

Skeptical DoDo

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