Racial Disparities in Hospice Services Will be Topic of Ithaca College Talk

By David Maley, February 7, 2017

Racial Disparities in Hospice Services Will be Topic of Ithaca College Talk

Evidence suggests that the use of palliative care and hospice services improves the quality of life of seriously ill patients and families, in cost-effective ways. However, statistics demonstrate persistent racial and ethnically based disparities in hospice use between blacks and whites.

The Ithaca College Gerontology Institute’s Distinguished Speaker Series will present a talk on that subject by Richard Payne, M.D., the Esther Colliflower Professor of Medicine and Divinity at Duke University. His presentation, “Racially-Associated Disparities in Hospice and Palliative Care Access: Can We Move the Needle?” will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13, in Emerson Suites, Campus Center. It is free and open to the public.

A 2013 study by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization found that 8.4% of all hospice patients identified as black or African, compared to 80.9% identifying as white or Caucasian. This difference in hospice utilization is even more striking given that African Americans have excessive mortality from almost all causes of death, including hospice appropriate illnesses.

Possible causes for this include gaps in knowledge about the goals and objectives of palliative and hospice care, different cultural and religious values and preferences of many African Americans compared to whites that shape end-of-life decision-making, and tensions concerning how to integrate concerns for social justice in health care with an agenda to embrace palliative and hospice care.

Payne’s lecture will discuss these factors and provide ideas for moving forward in providing greater access to palliative care by African Americans and other communities of color.

A neurologist and palliative medicine physician, Payne serves as a faculty associate of the Trent Center in Bioethics, as a member of the Duke Cancer Center, and as a member of the Ministry Division and the Initiative in Medicine, Theology and Culture at the Duke Divinity School. He also holds the John B. Francis Chair in Bioethics at the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Missouri.

Payne has previously served at both the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and is a past president of the American Pain Society and past board chair of the National Coalition of Cancer Survivors.

For more information, visit www.ithaca.edu/gerontology/speakerseries