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Research with Impact-Dr. Deborah Cook

  • November 25, 2015
  • News

A series of articles has been created by HHS Research which shine the spotlight on studies published in 2014 with an HHS Researcher as lead author. Each piece features a study published in a journal with an Impact factor greater than 10 and provides information about the author and about the research they lead. If their work strikes a cord with you, Tweet us at @HamHealthSc and include hashtag: HHSResearch

Dr. Deborah Cook received her MSc at McMaster, her Critical Care in Medicine at Stanford, and her MD at McMaster (FRCPC DABIM, CAHS, FRS). Dr. Cook is a Professor in the Department of Medicine, Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Joint Member, Dept. of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics at McMaster. Dr. Cook is currently the Canada Research Chair of Research Transfer in Intensive Care, Academic Chair of Critical Care Medicine at McMaster University, as well as the Co-Chair of the Critical Research Interest Group. She is interested in risk factors for serious illness, prevention of ICU-acquired complications, life support technology, and end-of-life decisions for critically ill patients.

September 19, 2014; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; McMaster University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Photo by Ron Scheffler for McMaster University.Publication:

Cook, D. (2014). Critical Care Medicine: Dying with dignity in the intensive care unit. New England Journal of Medicine, 370, 2506-2514.

Background of study: The traditional goals of intensive care are to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with critical illness, maintain organ function, and restore health. In this review, we address the concept of dignity for patients dying in the ICU. Fundamental to maintaining dignity is the need to understand a patient’s unique perspectives on what gives life meaning in a setting replete with depersonalizing devices.

Conclusions: Palliative care in the ICU has come of age. Its guiding principles are more important than ever in increasingly pluralistic societies. Ensuring that patients are helped to die with dignity begs for reflection, time, and space to create connections that are remembered by survivors long after a patient’s death. It calls for humanism from all clinicians in the ICU to promote peace during the final hours or days of a patient’s life and to support the bereaved family members. Ensuring death with dignity in the ICU epitomizes the art of medicine and reflects the heart of medicine.