Friday, August 5, 2011
Hospice and Hispanics: Doctor-Patient Communication (Research, Video 2:52)
Cultural values play an important role in how racial-ethnic populations make decisions regarding terminal illness, caregiving, end-of-life experiences, and hospice participation. Communication is a critical factor in delivering information that can be understood in the context of these values. Doctors and their background training must reflect general cultural knowledge of racial-ethnic groups in order to communicate well with them, always keeping in mind that there are differences within populations.
With a focus on Hispanics, researchers at the University of South Florida School of Social Work studied factors that doctors use to communicate with patients. Communication involved revealing a terminally ill diagnosis and a hospice referral. Interviews conducted in Spanish and/or English with ten doctors in Central Florida reported these results relating to communication and related themes:
1) Role of family members and end-of-life decisions
2) Language barriers and limited knowledge of culture and beliefs relating to end-of-life decisions
3) Gaps in training and education of doctors
Hispanics and other racial-ethnic populations that continue to be under-represented in hospice care must be included in the entitlement to death with dignity that the hospice philosophy supports. In order to improve representation, barriers such as language communication, knowledge of family roles, and cultural beliefs related to end-of-life decisions must be addressed. Better education and training of doctors and other healthcare workers can greatly improve their communication skills with various cultures.
This video from the Hospice Foundation of America Cares video series shares important information about Hispanic concerns that can help healthcare workers meet patients’ needs. Dorotea Gonzalez, nurse at Capital Hospice in Virginia, shares her perspectives on some of the philosophies at the foundation of Hispanic culture.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.