Study Finds Ethnic, Racial Gaps in Using End-Of-Life Care
Minorities are significantly less likely than whites to use hospice care for terminal illnesses, according a study released Thursday by the California HealthCare Foundation, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Citing 2004 data of patients who died while receiving hospice services, the researchers found:
- 74% were white;
- 4% were Asian American
- 6% were African American; and
- 15% were Latino (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 3/16).
The study concluded that requirements for hospice enrollment can conflict with the preferences of patients, such as African Americans and Latinos, who might not want to forego acute therapies not covered by Medicare's hospice benefit.
The authors call for:
- Reforming the Medicare Hospice Benefit to include more aggressive treatments, as well as palliative care;
- Extending public benefits for end-of-life care;
- Improving bereavement services in EDs; and
- Adding courses on ethnic and cultural aspects of pain management to medical education (Los Angeles Times, 3/16).