Minorities With Advanced Cancer Less Likely Than White Patients To Have Documented Preferences for End-Of-Life Care, Study Says
Blacks and Hispanics who have advanced cancer are about one-third less likely than whites to have a plan, such as a living will or do-not-resuscitate order, that details their preferences for end-of-life care, according to a new study, Reuters reports. For the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Alexander Smith of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and colleagues examined interviews with 449 cancer patients who thought they had fewer than six months to live.
According to the study, 80% of white patients had either discussed end-of-life preferences with their doctors or had a plan in place, compared with 47% of both black and Hispanic patients.
Researchers found that minority patients with advanced cancer were more likely than white patients to want aggressive care to prolong their lives. They also were more likely than whites to say that religion was very important to them, the study found. However, those differences did not explain lower numbers of minorities who lacked an end-of-life care plan, the researchers said, adding that further studies are needed to explain the discrepancy.
They noted that previous research has indicated minorities are less likely to trust the health system and that could affect their desire to plan end-of-life care. Smith added that the way doctors communicate with patients about end-of-life care also could affect which patients develop a care plan (Reuters, 9/30).
An abstract of the study is available online.