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Helping Black Patients with End-of-Life Decisions

African American families tend to choose life-prolonging interventions when faced with advanced, terminal conditions rather than focusing on comfort care and quality of life. Here’s why — and how doctors can help.
July 13th, 2022

“As a palliative care physician, a neurologist, a daughter of pastors, a health services researcher, and an African American woman, I feel uniquely positioned to contribute to efforts to address end-of-life disparities for Black individuals,” begins Maisha T. Robinson, MD, MSHPM, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and chair of the Division of Palliative Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Florida.  She notes that end-of-life discussions with all her patients was difficult, but her Black patients were the hardest.  “In fact, only 15% of older Black Americans complete advance directives, compared to 52% of older White Americans. Ultimately, Black Americans tend to elect more aggressive measures than White patients do at the end of life despite limited potential benefit.”

Read More:  Association of American Medical Colleges


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