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Terminally Ill Patients Hesitant To Discuss End-Of-Life Care

This article is more than 10 years old.

A new Harvard Medical School study shows many terminally ill patients tend to delay talking about end-of-life care decisions.

Researchers surveyed 1,517 patients with advanced lung cancer about whether they had discussed hospice care and other options with their doctors. Only half of of the respondents did so within four to seven months of diagnosis.

The study found that African-American and Hispanic patients were even less likely to have the conversation with their doctors. About 49 percent of African-Americans and 53 percent of Hispanics had discusses end-of-life issues. That's compared to 53 percent of whites and 57 percent of Asians.

The survey did not ask why the patients delayed. But researchers suggested doctors aren't well-trained in end-of-life care discussions, and often choose aggressive treatment instead.

This program aired on May 26, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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