University Study: End of Life Care Needs Improvement

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Kingston, Ontario — According to a study by Queen’s University professor Daren Heyland, better psychological and spiritual support – along with improved planning of care and stronger relationships with physicians – are required to improve end-of-life care.

“High quality end-of-life care should be the right of every Canadian,” says Heyland, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Queen’s and a researcher at Kingston General Hospital. “But it’s not always happening. We know from international studies that Canada ranks ninth in the world in terms of quality of care provided at the end of life.”


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His study involved 363 patients over 55 years old along with 193 family caregivers who completed a questionnaire that gauged satisfaction with the end-of-life care for patients with advanced diseases and their families.

Satisfaction for end-of-life care overall was rated as good, however ratings for complete satisfaction ranged from only nine per cent to a high of 57 per cent, suggesting the need for improvement.

The highest priorities were improving patients’ emotional support, increased communication and involvement in decisions, and improving relationships between the patient, family and doctor.

Least satisfying for patients was their understanding of what to expect in the end stage, discussions with their physician about the final location of care, and the use of technology at the end of life.

This report has been published in the current issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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