Rosemary FlaniganMarch 23, 2009
I have been flattened!!!
Dear colleague John Carney
sent me a Journal of the American Medical Association
article (“Religious Coping and Use of Intensive Life-Prolonging Care Near Death in Patients with Advanced Cancer
” JAMA, March 18, 2009. 1140-47) over the week-end that dashed my preconceptions.
All this time I have presumed, assumed, that those who call themselves “religious” would set aside requests for life-sustaining treatment and simply allow death to occur.
How wrong I was.
Read this précis of the conclusion of the article: “Positive religious coping in patients with advanced cancer is associated with receipt of intensive life-prolonging medical care dear death. Further research is needed to determine the mechanisms for this association.” (italics mine)
Note that the “intensive life-prolonging care = receipt of mechanical ventilation or resuscitation in the last week of life”!!!
It was borne in on me with a whoosh that our assumptions need special attention, especially in our case consults, a point I’ve been making to groups but NOT making to myself!!!! Just because I think of myself as “religious” and my long-held belief that I want nothing that will prolong my dying, in no way can I wriggle that belief into others, even those who share my particular brand of “religiosity.”
My desire to universalize from my own experience was FLATTENED!
And not just the assumptions of us who are doing the analysis but of those others who are involved need to be opened up and examined.
Assumptions are far from facts—yet they color the way we interpret facts. Another hole dug to bury hurried case consults!!!!!
Any stories??? Any remarks??? THANKS.