Ethnic, Racial Gap in End-Of-Life Care Found Nationwide
A study released last month that found that minorities in California are significantly less likely than whites to use hospice care for terminal illnesses has triggered a national debate among health care advocates regarding the disparity, Dow Jones Business News reports (Gerencher, Dow Jones Business News, 4/5).
The study by the California HealthCare Foundation found that 74% of patients in 2004 who died while receiving hospice services were white (California Healthline, 3/16).
Andy Duncan, director of information services for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, said that nationally about 82% of hospice patients in 2005 were white.
Mark Smith, president of CHCF, said the requirements for hospice enrollment can conflict with the preferences of minorities, who might not want to forgo curative treatments.
Jane Delgado, president of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, said, "The term 'hospice' in Spanish has a very negative connotation" that implies abandonment. She added that Latinos prefer to take care of family members without outside assistance.
Phil Di Sorbo -- former executive director of the Community Hospice in Albany, N.Y. -- said the number of black families using hospice services increased significantly over the past six years after engaging with the community to become more customer-friendly. Di Sorbo said the hospice center had difficulty overcoming a collective suspicion of hospices by minorities. He added, "There's a distrust that maybe you don't want to cure me, maybe I don't deserve the best" (Dow Jones Business News, 4/5).
The California HealthCare Foundation is the publisher of California Healthline.