Most people would trade a few months of life if it meant a more comfortable death, U.S. researchers reported Wednesday.
The study ties in with other research that shows people are beginning to value a good death as much as they do a long life, the team at the University of Pittsburgh said.
Writing in the journal Medical Care, Cindy Bryce and colleagues surveyed 104 people, offering six different scenarios involving an 80-year-old man who died after a one-month stay in an intensive care unit.
“From our research, we found that people care a great deal about the quality of the death experience,” said Bryce, an assistant professor of medicine.
On average, interviewees would have been willing to trade seven months of healthy life to ensure better quality of care in the final month of life.
“We tested the importance of good care at the end of life by measuring whether people would be willing to trade life expectancy and live a shorter life for better care at the end of life. The results were overwhelming, as 75 percent said they would trade some amount of healthy life to improve the quality of end-of-life care,” Bryce said.
The study supports a growing movement toward hospice care and away from valiant but often painful attempts to keep a dying person alive a bit longer.