Minorities face barriers, stereotyping when it comes to end-of-life care

Minority patients face more challenges in obtaining their desired end-of-life care, often due to finances, new research suggests.

The most frequently reported barrier is lack of sufficient financial resources and insurance, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine said. They pinpointed six barriers through interviews with 300 people of varying ethnic backgrounds.

Minority patients were more likely to struggle in communication with doctors, have challenges accessing a healthcare system, or find doctors who disagreed about a care plan. Other barriers included cultural and religious differences, along with family beliefs.

Researchers say the results show that ethnicity cannot effectively predict the type of palliative care a person wants.

"There is so much generalization and stereotyping by physicians about how ethnic minorities want everything done, irrespective of how effective these treatments might be at the end of life," said VJ Periyakoil, M.D., a clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford and lead author of the study. "In reality, it is more of a socioeconomic issue than an ethnic issue.”

Results of the study appear in the Journal of Palliative Medicine