AAHPM: Race Affects Attitudes Towards Hospice

Older black people tend to have lower awareness of hospice and more negative opinions

MONDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Beliefs and attitudes about hospice care vary significantly between older whites and blacks, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in collaboration with the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Kimberly S. Johnson, M.D., of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues surveyed 205 adults aged 65 and over, and analyzed their responses using the Hospice Beliefs and Attitudes Scale, Preferences for Care Scale, Spirituality Scale, and Healthcare System Distrust Scale.

The researchers found that black subjects were more likely than white subjects to have a lower awareness of hospice, favor more aggressive care, hold spiritual beliefs at odds with hospice care, distrust the health care system and have unfavorable attitudes about hospice. The investigators also found that the Healthcare System Distrust Scale was the most significant variable explaining the racial disparity in beliefs and attitudes towards hospice.

"Efforts to reduce barriers to hospice use among African Americans should focus on factors that are most amenable to change, such as education about hospice and trust in the health care system," the authors conclude.

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