Impact of end-of-life discussions on the reduction of Latino/non-Latino disparities in do-not-resuscitate order completion

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Compared with non-Latino, white patients with advanced cancer, Latino patients with advanced cancer are less likely to sign do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders, which is a form of advance care planning associated with better quality of life at the end of life (EOL). Latinos' completion of DNR orders may be more sensitive to clinical discussions regarding EOL care. The current study examined differences between Latino and white terminally ill patients with cancer with regard to the association between EOL discussions and DNR order completion.


A total of 117 participants with advanced cancer (61 of whom were Latino and 56 of whom were non-Latino white individuals) were recruited between 2002 and 2008 from Parkland Hospital (a public hospital in Dallas, Texas) as part of the Coping with Cancer study, which is a large, multiinstitutional, prospective cohort study of patients with advanced cancer that is designed to examine social and psychological influences on EOL care. In structured interviews, patients reported if they had EOL discussions with their physicians, and if they completed DNR orders.


The association between EOL discussions and DNR order completion was significantly greater in Latino compared with white patients, adjusting for potential confounds (interaction adjusted odds ratio, 6.64; P = .041). Latino patients who had an EOL discussion were >10 times more likely (adjusted odds ratio, 10.91; P = .001) to complete a DNR order than those who had not, and were found to be equally as likely to complete a DNR order as white patients.


Differences in the impact of EOL discussions on DNR order completion may explain Latino/non-Latino ethnic disparities in DNR order completion in EOL care, and point to a means to eliminate those disparities. Cancer2016;122:1749-56. © 2016 American Cancer Society.

Clinical discussions regarding end-of-life (EOL) care dramatically increase the likelihood of do-not-resuscitate order completion for Latino patients with advanced cancers. Efforts to enhance communication regarding EOL care for Latino patients are likely to reduce Latino/non-Latino disparities in advance care planning and EOL care.

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