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End-of-life treatment preferences: a key to reducing ethnic/racial disparities in advance care planning?

Garrido MM, Harrington ST, Prigerson HG. End-of-life treatment preferences: a key to reducing ethnic/racial disparities in advance care planning? Cancer. 2014 Dec 15; 120(24):3981-6.

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BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to identify targets for interventions to reduce end-of-life care disparities among patients with advanced cancer. To do this, the authors evaluated the degree to which end-of-life care values and preferences are associated with advance care planning within racial/ethnic minority groups. METHODS: The Coping with Cancer study recruited patients with advanced cancer from outpatient clinics in 5 states from 2002 to 2008. Then, the rates of 1 type of advance care planning-do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders-reported at baseline interviews by 606 patients were investigated. Bivariate tests determined associations among DNR order completion, religious values, and treatment preferences within racial/ethnic groups. RESULTS: Non-Latino white patients were significantly more likely to have a DNR order (45%) than black (25%) and Latino (20%) patients (P < .001). A preference against specific life-prolonging treatment (eg, chemotherapy, ventilation) was the only factor significantly associated with higher DNR order likelihood in each group, with non-Latino white patients more likely than Latino or black patients to express preferences against life-prolonging care (eg, 26% of non-Latino white patients, 46% of black patients, and 41% of Latino patients wanted a feeding tube if it would extend life for 1 more day; P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: Preferences against life-prolonging care differ dramatically by race/ethnicity, but they have a uniform significant association with DNR order completion rates across racial/ethnic groups of patients with advanced cancer. Advance care planning interventions that target preferences associated with DNR orders across racial/ethnic groups may reach a broad patient population and reduce end-of-life care disparities.

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