Study Shows Disparities in End-of-Life Care

In an interview with California Healthline, LaVera Crawley — a research professor at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and author of a recent study on racial and ethnic disparities in end-of-life care — said providers and policymakers must recognize the role of cultural background in shaping patients’ attitudes toward the death process (Rebillot, California Healthline, 3/27).

The study, which was commissioned by the California HealthCare Foundation, examined 2004 data on Californians who died while receiving hospice services. The study found:

  • 74% were white;
  • 4% were Asian-American;
  • 6% were African-American; and
  • 15% were Latino (California Healthline, 3/16).

Crawley said patients’ race, ethnicity and cultural experiences influence how they perceive and access end-of-life care options.

“[W]e really do have to understand that not every world view accepts the medical model” of end-of-life care, she said.

“[T]here are spiritual issues that need to be taken into consideration of how people understand living and dying and the afterlife,” she added.

The California Healthline special audio report also includes comments from Mark Smith, president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation (California Healthline, 3/27).

The California HealthCare Foundation is the publisher of California Healthline.

E-mail with comments or questions about California Healthline special audio reports.

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