The Desires of Their Hearts: The Multidisciplinary Perspectives of African Americans on End-of-Life Care in the African American Community

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Abstract

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.

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