Blacks' end-of-life care preferences often overlooked, study finds

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Black patients are less likely than white patients to receive end-of-life care that accurately reflects their preferences, according to new research.

Over five years, researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston discovered that black patients and white patients reported similar rates of end-of-life discussions. Black patients are traditionally more likely to prefer life-prolonging care at the end of life, which is associated with greater distress and poorer quality of life, researchers noted in their report. But black patients in this study tended to receive more aggressive care regardless of their preference. Researchers discovered that black patients with a Do Not Resuscitate order were just as likely to receive life-prolonging treatment as those without a DNR, according to the study of 332 terminal care patients. 

"Although the reasons for our findings are not fully understood,” the researchers wrote, “white patients appear to have undefined advantages when it comes to receiving end-of-life care that reflects their values."

The report appears in the Sept. 27 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

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