Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 September 2006
Objectives: To describe physicians' end-of-life practices, perceptions regarding end-of-life care and characterize differences based upon physician specialty and demographic characteristics. To illuminate physicians' perceptions about differences among their African-American and Caucasian patients' preferences for end-of-life care.
Design and methods: Twenty-four African-American and 16 Caucasian physicians (N = 40) participated in an in-person interview including 23 primary care physicians, 7 cardiologists, and 10 oncologists. Twenty-four practices were in urban areas and 16 were in rural counties.
Results: Physicians perceived racial differences in preferences for end-of-life care between their Caucasian and African-American patients. Whereas oncologists and primary care physicians overwhelmingly reported having working relationships with hospice, only 57% of cardiologists reported having those contacts. African-American physicians were more likely than Caucasian physicians to perceive racial differences in their patients preferences for pain medication.
Significance of results: Demographic factors such as race of physician and patient may impact the provider's perspective on end-of-life care including processes of care and communication with patients.