Interesting story over at the BBC. I’m sure the common myth is that religious people are the most gracious at accepting death, while the nonreligious hold on to life like scared children, after everyone else knows it’s futile. (Actually, I think I remember Lee Strobel making some argument based on the quiet confidence of believers on their death beds as evidence for Christianity.)
Pious ‘fight death the hardest’
People with strong religious beliefs appear to want doctors to do everything they can to keep them alive as death approaches, a US study suggests.
Researchers followed 345 patients with terminal cancer up until their deaths.
Those who regularly prayed were more than three times more likely to receive intensive life-prolonging care than those who relied least on religion.
The researchers from the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute found these people were the least likely to have filled in a “do not resuscitate” order.
As well as receiving resuscitation, they were much more likely to be placed on mechanical ventilation in the last few days of life.
While previous US research has shown that the religious tend to support intensive end-of-life care, little work has been done to show whether they actually receive this.
I’m have to wonder about the causal relationship here. Are people who fear death more likely to cling to religion? Does belief in religion make people worried about the afterlife (perhaps because they doubt their own salvation)? I always found it slightly odd that religious people put up much of a fight against death if they believe they are going to heaven to meet God. It also puts the religious’ phrases like “sanctity of life” and opposition to euthanasia in a new light – they are worried about their own continued life.