Monday, December 11, 2017

Mortality: Church and Religious Service Attendance Impact (Research, Video 1:39)

Have you ever thought about attending church or religious services as a means of extending your life? Apparently, others have in the past. Unfortunately, previous studies on the association between attendance at church and religious services and mortality often have been limited by inadequate methods for reverse causation, inability to assess effects over time, and limited information on mediators and cause-specific mortality. This particular study, which is focused on women, evaluates the associations between attendance at religious services and subsequent mortality. 

Using a self-reported questionnaire over a period of 20 years, participants numbering 74,534 women in the Nurses' Health Study who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline. Among the 74,534 participants, there were 13,537 deaths. Data analysis was conducted from returns of 11,996 questionnaires. After adjustment for major lifestyle factors, risk factors, and attendance at religious services, attending a religious service more than once per week was associated with 33% lower all-cause mortality compared with women who had never attended religious services.

The research concluded that “frequent attendance at religious services was associated with significantly lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality among women. Religion and spirituality may be underappreciated resources that physicians could explore with their patients, as appropriate.”

The following video explains research on church attendance regarding “middle-aged (ages 40 to 65) adults who attended church (or other houses of worship) and reduced their risk for mortality by 55 percent.” Research is explained by Marino Bruce, associate director of the Center for Research on Men's Health at Vanderbilt University and main author of the study with Keith Norris, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. There are also nine other co-authors.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Monday, December 4, 2017

Unbefriended Patients (Research, Video 3:02)

“Unbefriended” is a word most people rarely hear or use. The very thought of being unbefriended carries a sadness that makes people dread experiencing it. Unfortunately, too many people are heading in that direction.

In the healthcare arena, unbefriended patients are those who have no surrogates to represent them in making medical decisions for self-determination. Being unbefriended jeopardizes a fundamental concept of American healthcare. Even more complicated both legally and ethically is an unbefriended patient who also happens to be in a vegetative state.

The process for making decisions on behalf of unbefriended patients is complicated and varies throughout the country. An example is this case of an unbefriended hospital patient admitted with cardiac arrest. The patient suffered significant brain damage and was in a vegetative state. This case occurred in a state where, unless an unbefriended patient will imminently die despite medical therapy, all measures must be taken to prolong the patient's life. With no surrogate with whom healthcare professionals could have a goals-of-care discussion, they were obligated to continue aggressive management despite knowing it would prolong, but not improve the patient’s condition. Prolonging life included a feeding tube and being transferred to a long-term care facility.

The importance of having early healthcare discussions regarding treatment and written advance directives including a surrogate (durable power of attorney) to make medical decisions cannot be stressed enough. If you were dying right now, would you be unbefriended? Would you be protected from overtreatment or undertreatment? Dr. Eric Widera explains solutions to this problem in this video brought to you by members of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.