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July 15, 2009

Religious Coping and Life-Prolonging Care

JAMA. 2009;302(3):257-258. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1004

To the Editor: In the study of the association between religious coping and receipt of mechanical ventilation by Dr Phelps and colleagues,1 I take issue with how the end-of-life goals of care were framed. “Preferences for heroics” and “do everything possible,” as used in this study, are terms that are strongly discouraged in the communication training laboratory in which I work. These are value-loaded medical metaphors that are prone to misperception. A physician may understand that they refer to futile end-of-life treatment or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but a patient may not have this shared perspective.

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