BACKGROUND: Advance care planning (ACP), palliative care (PC), and hospice are often underutilized by African Americans (AAs). This study assessed the impact of stage of intent to discuss ACP options as key potential barriers.
METHODS: We examined intent to discuss completion of ACP, PC, and hospice among 22 AA patients with cancer admitted to a local safety net hospital. Participants were asked about intent to discuss an advanced directive or living will (AD/LW), medical power of attorney (MPOA), PC, and hospice with their doctors. Intent to discuss these ACP components was based on the transtheoretical model. Electronic health records were reviewed at various intervals to assess completion of ACP behaviors and survival.
RESULTS: Participants had colorectal (33%), breast (44%), and lung (23%) cancer, and 82% had stage III/IV disease. Low percentages of patients were in the precontemplation stage for AD/LW completion (4.6%), MPOA completion (13.6%), and PC discussions (27.2%), but 77.2% were in the precontemplation stage for hospice discussions. At 1 year, only 5% completed an AD/LW, 36.4% appointed an MPOA, 42.9% were referred to PC, and 12.5% were referred to hospice. More than half (54.6%) were deceased by the study's conclusion. Most (81%) of these died within 6 months of their baseline study assessment.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite being hospitalized with advanced cancer and having poor prognosis, intent to discuss ACP options, PC, and hospice in this population was variable, and completion of these activities was low. This formative research is needed to develop education and counseling interventions for this high-risk, vulnerable population.
Background: Studies have identified racial differences in advance care planning and use of hospice for care at the end of life. Multiple reasons for underuse among African American patients and their families have been proposed and deserve further exploration.
Objective: The goal of this study was to examine perceptions of advance care planning, palliative care, and hospice among a diverse sample of African Americans with varying degrees of personal and professional experience with end-of-life care and use these responses to inform a culturally sensitive intervention to promote awareness of these options.
Methods: Semistructured interviews and focus groups were conducted with African Americans who had varying degrees of experience and exposure to end-of-life care both personally and professionally. We conducted in-depth qualitative analyses of these interviews and focus group transcripts and determined that thematic saturation had been achieved.
Results: Several themes emerged. Participants felt that advance care planning, palliative care, and hospice can be beneficial to African American patients and their families but identified specific barriers to completion of advance directives and hospice enrollment, including lack of knowledge, fear that these measures may hasten death or cause providers to deliver inadequate care, and perceived conflict with patients' faith and religious beliefs. Providers described approaches they use to address these barriers in their practices.
Conclusion Findings, which are consistent with and further elucidate those identified from previous research, will inform design of a culturally sensitive intervention to increase awareness and understanding of advance care planning, palliative care, and hospice among members of the African American community.