ALEXANDRIA, Va.--Hospice care may prolong the lives of some
terminally ill patients, a recent study has found.

The study, published last month in the Journal of Pain and
Symptom Management
, found that hospice patients survived an
average of 29 days longer than non-hospice patients.

Researchers looked at terminally ill patients with either
congestive heart failure or cancer of the breast, colon, lung,
pancreas or prostate. Patients who chose hospice care lived longer
in each of the disease categories except breast and prostate
cancer. The biggest gain was for CHF patients, where the mean
survival period jumped from 321 to 402 days.

Patients may do better in hospice because they are less likely
to be over-treated, the study's authors said, noting that
monitoring and treatment may also be improved under hospice

Additionally, hospice provides in-home care from an
interdisciplinary team focused on the emotional needs, spiritual
well-being and physical health of the patient. Support and training
for family caregivers is provided as well. This may increase the
patient's desire to continue living and may make them feel less of
a burden to family members, researchers said.

"This study provides important information to suggest that
hospice is related to the longer, not shorter length of
survival--by days or months--in many patients," said Dr. Stephen
Connor, lead author of the study. "This additional time may be
valuable to patients and families to give more time for resolution
and closure."

The study, "Comparing Hospice and Nonhospice Patient Survival
Among Patients Who Die Within a Three-Year Window," was conducted
by researchers at the National Hospice and Palliative Care
Organization in collaboration with consulting and actuarial firm
Milliman Inc.

To download the study, target="_blank">click here.