Program Seeks To Promote End-of-Life Care Among Blacks
The Dallas Morning News recently examined a two-day program that aims to address the "discrimination, cultural and economic barriers, and lingering distrust of the health care system" that contributes to blacks' minimal use of end-of-life care. According to 2006 data from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, less than 9% of hospice patients are black. Blacks make up nearly 14% of the U.S. population, the Morning News reports. Blacks are more likely than whites to seek aggressive life-saving treatments for terminally ill family members, and less likely to feel comfortable making the decision to end such treatment or to have living wills or documents designating a family member to make medical decisions for them when they are unable to make them on their own, according to the Morning News.
Dallas is the first Southwest city to host the program, called A Progressive Palliative Care Educational Curriculum for the Care of African-Americans at Life's End, which was developed by Duke University. A coalition of Dallas hospitals, hospices and other care providers is co-sponsoring the program. Sessions will address cultural and spiritual concerns, seek to improve communication with involved parties and develop strategies for patient-centered care. In addition, participants will develop action plans based on what they learned and how they plan to inform others about end-of-life care.
Robert Fine, head of the local APPEAL program and internist at Baylor University Medical Center, said, "The hope is rallying our community of health care providers and African-American churches around the goal of improving treatment and care at the end of life for a group of people who haven't had the best care at the end of life."
Richard Payne -- director of Duke University Medical Center's Institute on Care at the End of Life, who will facilitate the program -- said, "Minority families and African-Americans in particular have to cope with thoughts of, 'Would I be in this fix if I had better access to care?' or, 'Can I trust this system that hasn't treated me very well?' or, 'Are they treating me well, or is it a cost-saving measure?'" He added, "Just to acknowledge these questions is a big step" toward improving end-of-life care for blacks (Hancock, Dallas Morning News, 6/28).