Dana-Faber Cancer Institute Says: Pious Fight Death Hardest

An interesting article from Slashdot today linking to this BBS story:

A US study suggests that people with strong religious beliefs appear to want doctors to do everything they can to keep them alive as death approaches. The study, following 345 patients with terminal cancer, found that ‘those who regularly prayed were more than three times more likely to receive intensive life-prolonging care than those who relied least on religion.

The BBC story says:

Those who regularly prayed were more than three times more likely to receive intensive life-prolonging care than those who relied least on religion.

The team’s report was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It suggests that such care, including resuscitation, may make death more uncomfortable.

Just over 30% of those asked agreed with the statement that religion was “the most important thing that keeps you going”.  

The poster on /. opines:

one would think that a strong belief in an afterlife would lead to a more resigned acceptance of death than nonbelievers who view death as the end of existence, the annihilation of consciousness and the self. Perhaps the concept of a Judgment produces death-bed doubts? (‘Am I really saved?’) Or, given the Judeo-Christian abhorrence of suicide, and the belief that it is God who must ultimately decide when it is ‘our time,’ is it felt that refusing aggressive life support measures or resuscitation is tantamount to deliberately ending one’s life prematurely?

I don’t know that I have any specific thoughts, other than to say that this is the opposite of what I would have expected.

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