Giving Compass' Take:

• This story from Medical Xpress highlights a recent study out of Dartmouth which finds that patients nearing the end of their lives are frequently unaware of all their options.

• Why might hospitals or medical professionals be currently failing to deliver on the desires of their patients in terms of end-of-life care? What obstacles might there be to offering more options to patients?

• To learn about providing cancer patients with holistic support, click here.


Many seriously ill people in the United States—and around the world—are not dying as they would like. Yet, a new study by researchers from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice found that although there are dozens of tools available to help people make difficult decisions near the end of their lives, they are of varying quality and very few are actually available for patients and families to use in hospitals.

"As the population ages, the number of people in the U.S. older than 85 will balloon—to 20 million by 2050. We need to understand as much as we can about tools that are available to help people near the end of their lives. This will help us improve experiences for people who are seriously ill or dying, who are already so vulnerable," says lead author and Dartmouth Institute Ph.D. student Catherine Saunders, MPH.

The researchers looked at the availability and quality of patient decision aids for people facing treatment decisions near the end of life. Among their findings recently reported in the Journal of Hospital Medicine:

  • 50% (14) of decision aids were tailored to seriously ill individuals with specific conditions, such as cancer or heart failure
  • 39% (11) were for specific life-sustaining treatments
  • Yet only two focused on general treatment approaches, such as life-sustaining treatments vs. palliative care

Read the full article about end-of-life care by The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice at Medical Xpress