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Religious Coping and Use of Intensive Life-Prolonging Care Near Death in Patients with Advanced Cancer

This research aims to determine the way religious coping relates to the use of intensive life prolonging end-of-life care among patients with advanced cancer.

 In a recent study of patients with lung cancer, faith was cited as the second most important factor influencing treatment decisions after oncologist recommendations. Research also indicates that religious factors affect medical decisions at the end of life.

 Despite evidence that religiousness is associated with preference for aggressive end-of-life care, it is unknown if religious factors influence the actual intensity of care received near death. Researchers hypothesized that patients who rely heavily upon their religious faith to cope with advanced cancer would be more likely to receive intensive medical care near death (eg, mechanical ventilation and/or cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Data from the Coping with Cancer Study, a federally funded, multisite, prospective cohort of patients with advanced cancer, were used to examine the relationship between patients’ use of positive religious coping at baseline and the receipt of intensive medical care during the last week of life.

  In conclusion, the multivariable model of positive religious coping and intensive life prolonging care was further adjusted for psychosocial variables significantly related to positive religious coping. The relationship between positive religious coping and intensive life-prolonging care remained significant after controlling for other coping methods, terminal illness acknowledgment and support of spiritual needs, and preference for heroics and completion of advance directives. Positive religious coping remained a significant predictor of intensive life-prolonging care after simultaneously adjusting for each of these psychosocial variables.


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