Alternative Therapies Offered by Many Hospice Care Providers

About 5 percent of discharged hospice patients received at least one alternative therapy

THURSDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Approximately 40 percent of hospice care providers offer complementary and alternative therapies (CAT) -- including massage, supportive group therapy, and music therapy -- or have a CAT provider under contract or on staff, according to a report in the Jan. 19 issue of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Statistics Reports.

Anita Bercovitz, Ph.D., of the Division of Health Care Statistics at the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the 2007 National Home and Hospice Care Survey to estimate the provision and use of CAT in hospice.

The investigators found that 41.8 percent of hospice care providers offered CAT services, had a CAT provider on staff or under contract, or both, in 2007. Among hospice care providers offering CAT, 71.7 percent offered massage, 69 percent offered supportive group therapy, 62.2 percent offered music therapy, 58.6 percent offered pet therapy, and 52.7 percent offered guided imagery or relaxation. The investigators also found that 4.9 percent of all discharged hospice patients received at least one CAT from the hospice care provider, and that 21.5 percent of hospice care providers that offered CAT had at least one discharged patient who received CAT during hospice care. More than half of discharged patients (56.5 percent) received care from a provider that offered CAT, and of those, 8.6 percent received at least one CAT from the hospice care provider during their hospice stays.

"Providers offering CAT may be more flexible and proactive in meeting their patients' perceived needs, including encouraging completion of advance directives, and approaches toward pain management, as well as offering a greater variety of services," the authors write.

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