Hospice patients live longer

In a recent study, hospice patients (particularly those with specific cancer and congestive heart failure diagnoses) lived longer than non-hospice patients. The study was published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management in March of 2007.

Quoting from the NHPCO website:

"Among the patient populations studied, the mean survival was 29 days longer for hospice patients than for non-hospice patients. In other words, patients who chose hospice care lived an average of one month longer than similar patients who did not choose hospice care." 

"Longer lengths of survival were found in four of the six disease categories studied. The largest difference in survival between the hospice and non-hospice cohorts was observed in CHF patients where the mean survival period jumped from 321 days to 402 days. The mean survival period also was significantly longer for the hospice patients with lung cancer (39 days) and pancreatic cancer (21 days), while marginally significant for colon cancer (33 days)." 

"There's an inaccurate perception among the American public that hospice means you've given up," said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. "Those of us who have worked in the field have seen firsthand how hospice can improve the quality of and indeed prolong the lives of people receiving care. Benefits of hospice have been reinforced by positive stories like that of Art Buchwald who seemed to thrive under the care of hospice." 

"Researchers cited several factors that may have contributed to longer life among patients who chose hospice. First, patients who are already in a weakened condition avoid the risks of over-treatment when they make the decision to receive hospice care. Second, hospice care may improve the monitoring and treatment patients receive. Additionally, hospice provides in-home care from an interdisciplinary team focused on the emotional needs, spiritual well-being, and physical health of the patient. Support and training for family caregivers is provided as well. This may increase the patient's desire to continue living and may make them feel less of a burden to family members."

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