‘Alternative’ hospice therapies are surprisingly prevalent

Types of complementary and alternative therapies offered by hospice care providers: United States, 2007. Click image for larger version.

More than 40% of U.S. hospices surveyed in 2007 offer complementary alternative therapies (CAT) for end-of-life care, according to the January 19 edition of National Health Statistics Reports. From massage and guided imagery to music and pet therapy, these treatments go above and beyond standard pain control and psychological support to soothe and comfort patients.

The widespread employment of such therapies by hospices is reported to result in abatement of symptoms, including anxiety and pain, in addition to improvements in mood and sense of control.

Financial support for these alternative therapies is provided not by health insurance but through volunteer efforts and donations, according to the findings from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

Some other interesting notes include: Hospice care providers that were non-profit or government owned were more likely to offer CAT; and there were very few differences in demographics, health, functional status, and admission diagnosis among discharged hospice patients by availability and use of CAT.

Click here to read the full survey findings in PDF format.

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