Care at the end of life: Focus on communication and race

Jane G. Zapka, Rickey Carter, Cindy L. Carter, Winnie Hennessy, Jerome E. Kurent, Susan DesHarnais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective: To profile communication and recommendations reported by adults with terminal illness and explore differences by patient and physician characteristics. Method: This pilot was a cross-sectional study sample of 90 patients (39 Caucasian, 51 African American) with advanced heart failure or cancer. Participants completed an in-person, race-matched interview. Results: Participation was high (94%). Discussion about end-of-life topics was low. For example, only 30% reported discussion of advance directives, and 22% reported their physician inquired about spiritual support. Participants with cancer were significantly more likely to be receiving pain and/or symptom management at home, aware of prognosis, and participating in hospice. African American participants who were under the care of African American physicians were less likely to report pain and/or symptom management than other racial matches. Discussion: Although additional research on factors related to communication is important, initiation of patient-centered counseling by all physicians with seriously ill patients is essential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-813
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Communication
  • End of life
  • Minorities
  • Processes of care
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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