According to findings from a study published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association individuals with high levels of religious coping were almost three times more likely to receive aggressive life-saving measures at the end of life. These patients were more likely to want their physicians to do anything they could to help them stay alive, such as using mechanical ventilation and other life-prolonging care. These same patients were also less likely to have a do-not-resuscitate order or a durable power of attorney. The authors of the study, commenting, stated “…taken together these results highlight the need for clinicians to recognize and be sensitive to the influence of religious coping on medical decisions and goals of care at the end of life.” There have been other studies that have examined the effects of religion on medical decision making; however, this is the first study to examine religion in conjunction with end-of-life medical decision making. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses the study more:
So they looked at data from 345 predominantly Christian patients with advanced cancer who were enrolled in the Coping With Cancer Study, a prospective, multicenter, longitudinal, cohort study.
The level of religious coping was assessed by questionnaire, and additional psychosocial and religious/spiritual measures, advanced care planning, and end-of-life preferences were evaluated in an interview.
More than three-quarters (78.8%) of the participants said religion helps them cope to a moderate extent, and 31.6% agreed that religion was the most important thing keeping them going.
More than half (55.9%) said they engaged in prayer, meditation, or religious study at least once a day.
Patients with a high level of religious coping were younger, less educated, less likely to be insured or married, and more likely to be black, Hispanic, or from one of the Texas study sites (P<0.001 for all).
Patients died a median of 122 days after the study began.
Those with a high level of religious coping were more likely to receive mechanical ventilation (OR 2.81, 95% CI 1.03 to 7.69) and intensive life-prolonging care during the last week of life (OR 2.90, 95% CI 1.07 to 7.89).
Click here to read the rest of this article from Medpage Today