Published on June 25, 2012 at 12:51 PM
An individual is eligible for hospice care if a physician estimates a life expectancy of six months or less, should the disease run its normal course. The emphasis of hospice is on enhancing the quality of life until death.
Co-authors of the study in addition to Dr. Unroe, who conducted the work while a geriatric medicine fellow at Duke University, are Melissa A. Greiner, M.S., Kimberly S. Johnson, M.D., MHS, Lesley H. Curtis, Ph.D., and Soko Setoguchi, M.D., Dr.P.H., of Duke. The research was supported by a John A. Hartford Foundation award to Dr. Unroe.
In a previous study of Medicare patients who died of heart failure, Dr. Unroe and colleagues found that use of hospice among heart failure patients "dramatically" increased, from 19 percent in 2000 to nearly 40 percent in 2007. However, rates of hospitalization in the final six months of life remained constant at about 80 percent.
Source: Indiana University School of Medicine