Massage therapy is one valued component at many hospice facilities. The vast majority of Americans, 98 percent, live within one hour’s drive of a hospice, new research shows, but most people in this country die without benefit of hospice care.

Studies have shown that enrollment in hospice helps address end-of-life concerns facing patients and their caregivers. Hospice services offer symptom management, medication delivery, home crisis intervention, and psychosocial support during one of the most difficult and emotionally demanding phases of the patient’s illness, according to a press release from The Mount Sinai Hospital/Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Massage therapy has also been found to console bereaved relatives.

“Despite a significant increase in the availability of hospice services during the past decade, the majority of Americans die without hospice care,” said Melissa D.A. Carlson, Ph.D., assistant professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Carlson’s research team studied data from the 2008 Medicare Provider of Services data, U.S. Census data, and geographic mapping software. Census tract characteristics evaluated included population per mile, population over the age of 65, median household per capita income, percentage over the age of 18 with less than a high school education, black population percentage, and census region. The team determined that 98 percent of the U.S. population lives within 60 minutes of a hospice, and 88 percent live within 30 minutes from one.

‘[M]ore research is needed to determine why more patients and their families are not under the care of a hospice at the end of life, including hospice admission criteria and patient financial and cultural factors that may present barriers to hospice use,” Carlson said.

The results are published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine.

Related articles:

For Many Patients, Hospice is Better than Hospitals at End of Life

Massage Creates “Inner Peace” for Hospice Patients

Massage Therapy Benefits Hospice Patients, Caregivers

New Research: Hand-and-Feet Massages Console Bereaved Relatives