The idea of talking about death to someone who is dying is a painful subject for a lot of people. But, a new study finds that people with terminal cancer who reported having what's called an "end-of-life" discussion with their doctor fared better in their last days because of those conversations.
Dr. Alexi Wright with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute explains what a typical end-of-life conversation should include. He says, "An end-of-life conversation is when a patient and their doctor talk about how long the patient has to live, what their options are, and what kind of care they want to receive in their final week of life. This includes whether people want to be placed on breathing machines, whether they want to undergo resuscitation if their heart would stop, and whether they want to receive artificial nutrition or antibiotics."
The five-year study appears the current issue of JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association. It found the patients who had end of life discussions were three times less likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit, four-times less likely to be put on a breathing machine and six-times less-likely to be resuscitated. And according to the study, their quality of life was significantly improved from being more comfortable, or at peace with their final decisions.