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End Of Life Care: Black Versus White Patients

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By Author: Angela MArtin
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Sometimes it's been observed that black cancer patients are not given as much attention as their white counterparts when it comes to end of life care. According to a new study from Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, black cancer patients' end-of-life treatment preferences were followed less frequently than their white counterparts.

Going by a release from the institute, white patients who seeked aggressive end of life care were three times more likely to receive it than their black counterparts.


In the meantime, some black patients who asked not to be resuscitated or put on a ventilator received this treatment anyway and met their end in an ICU. Holly Prigerson, PhD, senior author of the report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology said, “End-of-life care discussions appeared to be more effective in ensuring that white patients' treatment preferences were honored.”

She emphasized in the release, “We're not saying that black treatment preferences were ignored,” adding, “Black patients did want, and did get more aggressive care than whites. The disparity was in the effect of treatment preferences on care received - not that black preferences didn't matter.”

Poor communication: The study aimed to dig deeper into reported racial disparities in end-of-life care like the use of hospice and the use of intensive life-sustaining treatments.

According to Prigerson, non of the white patients who reported the completion of a do-not resuscitate order at baseline subsequently received intensive care in the last week of life.

This was not so when it came to the black patients. DNR orders did not protect black patients from intensive end-of-life care in this study.

The disparity in advance directives adherence along racial lines may be the result of interupptions in the chain of communication, researchers found out. It was also found out that DNR orders sometimes fell through the cracks with black patients as their care givers changed over the course of their illness.

Provides free weekly newswire hospice news in healthcare and offers learning opertunaty about end of life care that keeps connected to the latest developments in health-oriented services.

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