Volunteers may help in the last year of life

This first ever randomised trial of effectiveness has shown that volunteers may help at the end of life. But its methodological problems may say even more about the challenges facing volunteer services.

The results showed a trend in favour of the intervention and it was concluded that:

“Doctors and other clinicians can confidently refer people in their last year of life to volunteer services for support. They can expect that these services may slow a person’s decline in quality of life.

It was also recommended that Policymakers should continue to promote the involvement of volunteers in end-of-life care.

The study limitations were said to include “study power, blinding, missing data, attrition and intervention fidelity”.

But I think the limitations of the study actually give important clues about volunteer support services for people nearing the end of life.

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