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Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Michigan
Researchers at the University of Michigan's Comprehensive Cancer Center, in conjunction with Hospice of Michigan, four large medical centers and physicians' practices, studied the benefit of introducing hospice care to people earlier in the course of a progressive, incurable illness. Via a randomized clinical trial, the Palliative Care Program, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, demonstrated that patients receiving treatment to fight their illnesses can enjoy a better quality of life if they receive hospice care before the final weeks of life. Patients typically receive no hospice care until all life-prolonging options have been exhausted, often within just two weeks of death.
Dr. Kenneth J. Pienta, who directed the project, believed the new system allowed patients and their families to more easily prepare for the end of life, and was cost-effective at the same time. "Within this system the patient and family could appropriately begin the process of transition and we could provide an opportunity for patients and families to grow through the end of life," Pienta said. This University of Michigan program integrated hospice into the plan of care for patients with advanced breast, prostate or lung cancer or advanced congestive heart failure while life-prolonging treatment continued. It provided regional and national health care planners with valuable data concerning the costs of merging curative or life-prolonging medical care with hospice and palliative, or comprehensive comfort and supportive care.
The University of Michigan Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Center.
This demonstration project was featured at the 2003 NHPCO 18th Management and Leadership Conference:
After the Grant
This project, a randomized control trial, was designed to be discontinued when the grant ended.
Web site: www.cancer.med.umich.edu
Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care was a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation dedicated to long-term changes in health care institutions to substantially improve care for dying people and their families.