Religion makes patients hold on to life
Many think of religion as a source for reassurance and comfort in the face of death. Often the highly religious are expected to be more inclined to accept their end than those without the hope of eternal reward or a sense of divine providence guiding events. However, as the Terri Schiavo case highlighted, the deeply religious regularly opt for extraordinary means to maintain life, even in the face the extreme unlikelihood of recovery. In a new study published in JAMA, and reported in the New York Times, researchers have found that religiously devout patients with terminal cancer “were three times as likely as less religious ones to be put on a mechanical ventilator…during the last weeks of life.” It seems that far from encouraging a peaceful passing, highly religious patients hold on to life whatever the costs, be they monetary or in personal pain for themselves and their loved ones.