The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) said it best when it declared in its December 13, 2013, issue that “palliative care suffers from an identity problem.”
from Cancer in Context:
I’m not a religious person. But lately, having absorbed that I have Stage 4 lung cancer, I’ve wondered if it might make it easier to contemplate death if I were. Wouldn't faith make leaving this Earth less complicated for me? Would I be comforted if I thought there was a God waiting to welcome me in Heaven with Belgian chocolates?
Maybe not—according to some of the latest research. A study of more than 300 patients suffering advanced cancer found that people who received spiritual support from religious communities tended to want aggressive end-of-life care.
The research, published May 6 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that patients who wanted more aggressive care were more likely to die in a hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and to get cardiopulmonary resuscitation or a ventilator before they died, than were people with no support from religion groups. The more devout patients in the study were the more likely to die in the ICU.
Religious patients also were less likely to receive hospice care, which is known to reduce stress associated with desperate end-of-life measures and improve quality of life for terminally ill patients.
The study, by Dr. Tracy Balboni, a radiation oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, also showed an intriguing counterweight: Religious medical teams. Among patients with strong religious ties, those who received spiritual support from their medical team had a higher rate of hospice use, fewer aggressive treatments, and fewer ICU deaths.
See Reuters story