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Death Wishes Influenced By Ethnicity and Racial Background

A new study published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society says that the dying wishes of people are based on their ethnicity and racial backgrounds. // The study found that Arab Americans did not want to spend their last days at a nursing home, while African Americans did not mind it. Hispanic people want to die with dignity and were very worried about it.

White people did not want to be taken care of by their families in their last days, "One of the most important findings in our study is that there are so many different points of view, it is important for health care providers to treat everyone as an individual," commented lead author Sonia A. Duffy, Ph.D., R.N., research investigator with the Center for Practice Management and Outcomes Research at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, and with the departments of Otolaryngology and Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School. "We should keep in mind that our country's medical system is based on Western values, and that those values may not translate to other cultures. Deeply rooted cultural beliefs and values are difficult to influence."

There were difference at the gender level as well, Hispanic men did not favor medical support towards the end, while Hispanic women wanted to be constantly monitored. These conclusions were arrived at in the study in which there were 73 focus participants, who identified themselves as Arab Muslim, Arab Christian, Hispanic, black, or white.

Frances C. Jackson, Ph.D., R.N., from the School of Nursing at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich.; Stephanie M. Schim, Ph.D., R.N., from the College of Nursing at Wayne State University in Detroit; David L. Ronis, Ph.D., from the Center for Practice Management and Outcomes Research at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the School of Nursing at U-M; and Karen E. Fowler, M.P.H, from the Center for Practice Management and Outcomes Res earch at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System were the other authors of the study.

Katie Gazella
University of Michigan Health System


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