In a survey of 104 people reflecting the general U.S. population, 75% said they would take a shorter life as a tradeoff for better end-of-life care, according to a study in the journal Medical Care. Respondents were willing to trade seven months of healthy life on average to ensure better quality of life in their final months, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh. The results challenge the use of cost effectiveness as traditionally defined to set priorities for healthcare spending, said Cindy Bryce, the study's lead author. Cost effectiveness compares an intervention's cost with how many years of quality life it yields for patients. But in end-of-life care, a longer life may be less important to patients than having their pain alleviated, being included in treatment decisions, gaining more control over their surroundings and having the comfort of family around them. If those services were provided perfectly for a month in an intensive-care unit, they would add at most a month of quality life for considerable expense, Bryce said. Measuring backward instead of forward -- using the months a patient would rather give up than be in pain, alone and helpless -- offers an alternative way to judge the value of end-of-life care, she said. Read an abstract. -- by John Morrissey
Better death worth seven months of life: survey
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