A new study published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that families of patients who died from cancer indicated that the care and quality of life was better for those who died with the support of hospice as opposed to a hospital’s intensive care department.
The study also showed benefits of more timely hospice access. When hospice care was provided for more than three days, families reported a better end-of-life experience than those patients who received hospice care for three or less days.
Additionally, family members of patients who did not receive hospice care, or received three days ot less, indicated that their loved one was less likely to have died in the patient’s preferred location (40% versus 73% for those who had more than three days of hospice care).
Dr. Alexi Wright, the lead research with Harvard Medical School, indicated that these findings are a powerful argument for the importance of advance care planning.
Hospice professionals have long advocated that patients and families talk about desired end-of-life wishes long before they find themselves in a medical crisis.
“In this study we found that patients’ preferences influenced the care that they received. Now we need to ensure that patients and their family members have the information they need to make choices about their end-of-life experiences and plan for it,” Wright said.
Read the abstract for the article, “Family Perspectives on Aggressive Cancer Care Near the End of Life.”