Racial and ethnic differences in advance care planning among patients with cancer: Impact of terminal illness acknowledgment, religiousness, and treatment preferences

Alexander K. Smith, Ellen P. McCarthy, Elizabeth Paulk, Tracy A. Balboni, Paul K. Maciejewski, Susan D. Block, Holly G. Prigerson

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136 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Despite well-documented racial and ethnic differences in advance care planning (ACP), we know little about why these differences exist. This study tested proposed mediators of racial/ethnic differences in ACP. Patients and Methods: We studied 312 non-Hispanic white, 83 non-Hispanic black, and 73 Hispanic patients with advanced cancer in the Coping with Cancer study, a federally funded multisite prospective cohort study designed to examine racial/ethnic disparities in ACP and end-of-life care. We assessed the impact of terminal illness acknowledgment, religiousness, and treatment preferences on racial/ethnic differences in ACP. Results: Compared with white patients, black and Hispanic patients were less likely to have an ACP (white patients, 80%; black patients, 47%; Hispanic patients, 47%) and more likely to want life-prolonging care even if he or she had only a few days left to live (white patients, 14%; black patients, 45%; Hispanic patients, 34%) and to consider religion very important (white patients, 44%; black patients, 88%; Hispanic patients, 73%; all P < .001, comparison of black or Hispanic patients with white patients). Hispanic patients were less likely and black patients marginally less likely to acknowledge their terminally ill status (white patients, 39% v Hispanic patients, 11%; P < .001; white v black patients, 27%; P = .05). Racial/ethnic differences in ACP persisted after adjustment for clinical and demographic factors, terminal illness acknowledgment, religiousness, and treatment preferences (has ACP, black v white patients, adjusted relative risk, 0.64 [95% CI, 0.49 to 0.83]; Hispanic v white patients, 0.65 [95% CI, 0.47 to 0.89]). Conclusion: Although black and Hispanic patients are less likely to consider themselves terminally ill and more likely to want intensive treatment, these factors did not explain observed disparities in ACP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4131-4137
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Volume26
Issue number25
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 18 2008

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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