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J Aging Health. 2008 Aug;20(5):545-59. doi: 10.1177/0898264308317538. Epub 2008 Apr 28.

Religion, risk, and medical decision making at the end of life.

Author information

  • 1Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Program On Aging, and Yale School of Public Health, 300 George Street, Suite 775, New Haven, CT 06511, USA. peter.vanness@yale.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of this study is to present empirical evidence about whether religious patients are more or less willing to undergo the risks associated with potentially life-sustaining treatment.

METHODS:

At least every 4 months 226 older community-dwelling persons with advanced cancer, congestive heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were asked questions about several dimensions of religiousness and about their willingness to accept potentially life-sustaining treatment.

RESULTS:

Results were mixed but persons who said that during their illness they grew closer to God (odds ratio [OR] = 1.79; 95% confidence intervals [CI] = 1.15, 2.78) or those grew spiritually (OR = 1.61; 95% CI = 1.03, 2.52) were more willing to accept risk associated with potentially life-sustaining treatment than were persons who did not report such growth.

DISCUSSION:

Not all dimensions of religiousness have the same association with willingness to undergo potentially life-sustaining treatment. Seriously ill older, religious patients are not especially predisposed to avoid risk and resist treatment.

PMID:
18443144
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2526227
Free PMC Article
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