A recent government study of nursing home and hospice patients shows a significant gap between white and black people having advance care directives—documents that allow a person to make end-of-life decisions when they may not be able to speak for themselves.
“The National Center for Health Statistics looked at three groups of long-term care patients and found that 65% of those in nursing homes had advance directives, such as living wills and do-not-resuscitate orders, as did 88% in hospice settings and 28% in home health care,” USA Today reported.
By analyzing data from the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey and 2007 National Home and Hospice Care Survey, researchers found blacks to be less likely than whites to have advance directives in all three care groups. “They were only half as likely in home health care and nursing homes,” according to the USA Today report. The study did not address differences among other races or ethnicities.
A similar study recently published in the American Psychiatric Association’s journal Psychiatric Services found that nursing home residents with serious mental illness were 24% less likely to have any advance care directives compared to residents without mental illness.