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Researchers focus on helping dying patients take care of unfinished business
Date:11/17/2009

CLEVELAND--Hospice workers have watched patients emerge from comas and cling to life long enough to tell someone they love or forgive them.

This phenomenon of taking care of unfinished business has been observed, but researchers from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University will begin groundbreaking studies to understand what drives the dying to live long enough to resolve these issues.

With the research data, they will design interventions to help patients in hospice care and families before and after the person passes.

Before now, end of life research primarily focused on making the patient comfortable by easing suffering or discomfort from the illness.

But, the approach of Barbara Daly and Mary Jo Prince-Paul from the School of Nursing and Julie Exline from Arts and Sciences is to relieve psychological distress by marshaling the patient's inner strengths and social connections.

These qualities include the resilient feelings of hope, optimism and connectedness that they mustered to make it through difficult and even life-threatening situations before their terminal illnesses. Marshaling these inner resources has been shown to improve the psychological outlook of healthy people, and the researchers want to find out the benefits for those severely ill.

In the past, researchers have shied away from approaching dying patients with questions, but among the goals of these projects is to give hospice patients options to participate in research. They also will organize a biomedical research group interested in palliative care that focuses on the patients' and family members' inner strength.

Daly, the Gertrude Perkins Oliva Professor of Oncology Nursing at Case Western Reserve and clinical ethics director at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, will establish the BEST Center (Building End-of-Life Science through Positive H
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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