Older Black Americans Want

Aggressive Treatment to Prolong Life

Elderly blacks are more likely than older white people to choose aggressive measures to prolong their life, but less likely to record their preferences regarding end-of-life care, according to a new report. The findings may reflect a distrust of the healthcare system among black Americans based on past experiences, according to Michigan researchers. ``Blacks may see advanced directives as a means of limiting end-of-life care rather than as a mechanism for increasing control over future medical care decision-making,'' write Drs. Faith P. Hopp and Sonia A. Duffy with the Ann Arbor Healthcare System in Michigan.The authors add that previous research has shown that ''seriously ill blacks are indeed less likely to receive resource-intensive care than other patients.''

The study, published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that blacks were more likely than whites to opt for aggressive care at the end of life regardless of age, education and marital status. According to the survey, 44% of black Americans and 65% of white Americans wished to limit their medical care at the end of life. Similarly, 31% of African Americans asked that all possible actions be taken to prolong their lives compared with 17% of white Americans. But few blacks made advance care directives at the end of life. Sixteen percent of blacks had made a living will, for example, compared with about 42% of whites. Nearly 20% of black Americans had given someone power of attorney to make decisions on their behalf in the event of a terminal illness or disability, compared with about 38% of white Americans.

Thanks to Reuters Health

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