BOSTON (CBS) – People who enroll in hospice care are five times less likely to die in hospitals and nursing homes than people who do not choose hospice, according to a new study by local researchers.

“If you look at people with the exact same length of survival, from their diagnosis until they died, the people who chose hospice lived just as long as those who didn’t, but they got there with a lot fewer hospitalizations, a lot fewer intensive care stays, fewer invasive procedures, ” said lead researcher Dr. Ziad Obermeyer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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The study, published in a new issue of the Journal Of The American Medical Association, also found that those in hospice were less likely to receive aggressive cancer care during the last year of life.

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“It’s care that is focused on making people feel better rather than curing their underlying disease,” Obermeyer said.

Additionally, the study noted that people who chose hospice care paid an average of $8,697 less during the last year of life than non-hospice patients.

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“The key implication of the study is that we need to start talking about this earlier,” Obermeyer said. “Hospice is not for everyone, but doctors need to ask and patients need to think.”