ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Findings in a new study published in the current edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association indicate a better end of life experience for cancer patients who died with the support of hospice as opposed to a hospital's intensive care department.
The research article, "Family Perspectives on Aggressive Cancer Care Near the End of Life," reported benefits of timelier 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 or 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).
"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," wrote Dr. Alexi Wright, the lead researcher with Harvard Medical School.
The issue of JAMA is a theme edition looking at end of life. The importance of quality palliative and hospice care in providing a "good death" was cited by a number of the authors featured in the publication. Additionally, researchers shared a common message about the importance of advance care planning for making care preferences known.
Many of the research findings shared by JAMA echo key messages that have been part of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization's award-winning national awareness campaign, Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice.
Moments of Life features videos, blog articles and photos showing real patients and families who, with the support of hospice and palliative care, have found meaningful moments despite their terminal illness.
"Helping people understand that choosing hospice or palliative care earlier in the course of a serious, life-limiting illness is not 'giving up' but in most cases maximizes quality of life," said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. "NHPCO applauds the American Medical Association's focus on end of life issues in this edition of JAMA."
"Hospice and palliative care professionals have long advocated that patients and families talk about desired end-of-life wishes long before they find themselves in a medical crisis," Schumacher added.
Visit Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice to learn about the many ways hospice and palliative care might be right for you or a loved one.
Senior Vice President, Strategic Communications
SOURCE National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization