Monday, March 30, 2009

The Role of Religion in End of Life Decisions Part Deux

Rosemary Flanigan
March 30, 2009

Promise I’ll get off this subject, but Lorell gave me an interesting online article by Dr. Kate Scannell, contributing columnist for Inside Bay about the article in JAMA on religious coping and the desire for more aggressive medical care at the end of life.

She pointed out that in the study, “the vast majority—more than 86 percent—of high scorers did not receive mechanical ventilation or CPR during the last week of life. Thus, we could envision a headline or sound byte that might have alternatively offered, “Cancer patients using high levels of religious coping are unlikely to receive intensive medical care and CPR during the last week of life.”

As she says, same data, different analytic lens. I call those “analytic lens” “assumptions”—and as we sift facts through our assumptions, we certainly skew the data.

What do you think?

Faith, hope, and clarity at the end of life
Dr. Kate Scannell
Inside Bay
March 29, 2009

We should take a deep breath and critically analyze this study before it becomes dogma etched in stone. The danger is that broad comments characterizing behaviors of an enormous and diverse group of people — here, patients who rely on religious coping under stress — are destined to prove undependable, dehumanizing and misleading.



Blogger Marshall said...

I had my own reflection on the JAMA article, noting some of what Dr. Scannell noted, and some additional concerns. There are a number of concerns with the study group, as well as with the interpretations of the original researchers. And, of course, there the additional distortions that came with the attention of the popular press.

I think it is valuable for Dr. Scannell and other to note the shortcomings of this study. I also think it would be worthwhile for someone to write a response article and submit it to JAMA. If we expect folks to do better jobs with this kind of research, we need to challenge it where it is originally published.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009  

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