Health Care Ethics
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Henk ten Have
African-American, Cultural Competency, Palliative Care, Spirituality
Research has shown that African-Americans are least likely to receive adequate palliative interventions leading to concerns about the quality of health care in general and palliative care in particular for this population. Acknowledging patient preferences are essential in administering quality health care especially when a patient's condition is terminal. But when African-Americans are least likely to complete living wills or durable power of attorneys for health care and more likely to continue to request life sustaining treatments when near death, conflicts between patients and medical professionals can result.
Recognizing patient spirituality and addressing their spiritual needs can help the patient, family or surrogate decision-maker come to terms with, if not make sense of, their life-threatening illness and eventual mortality. This may be especially salient for African-Americans because of their history of victimization of racial discrimination and ensuing overwhelming challenges with sometimes tragic consequences. Models and approaches used to assess the spirituality of African-American patients must be culturally appropriate and performed by professionals with interpersonal communications skills and an awareness of how their implicit bias can impede the integrity of the clinician-patient interaction.
Welch, J. (2016). The Development of a New Model for Assessing African-American Spirituality in Palliative Care (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1542