Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Religious People Seek More Treatment
The New York Times reported on a new study that shows religious folks want more end of life, aggressive treatment when they have a terminal illness (cancer) than non church goers. We know that 80% of health care costs are spent in the last 6 weeks of life and that so many aggressive treatments are done when a person should be comfortably exiting this life. Aggressive end of life care can lead to a more painful and emotionally draining experience for family members too.
Hmmm. Let me think about this. Religious people believe in heaven (and hell) and say they trust in "God's will", but they opt for mechanical ventilators and don't prepare living wills, according the the study that will be published in JAMA. What is it about religion that would make a person want to "hang around" in an ICU on a ventilator, in this old, sick body, when heaven and the angels are beckoning? Shouldn't belief in an afterlife bring more peace and comfort about leaving the mortal body behind?
Apparently this study was done with Christian denominations so we don't know if Jews, Hindus, Muslims or Hari Krishnas also want heroic (mostly wasteful) end of life care.
Just reporting it, folks.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 6:55 AM