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Lower Use of Hospice by Cancer Patients who Live in Minority Versus White Areas

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Although hospice care can alleviate suffering at the end of life for patients with cancer, it remains underutilized, particularly by African Americans and Hispanics.


To examine whether the racial composition of the census tract where an individual resides is associated with hospice use.


Retrospective analysis of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare file for individuals dying from breast, colorectal, lung, or prostate cancer (n = 70,669).


Hospice use during the 12 months before death.


Hospice was most commonly used by individuals who lived in areas with fewer African-American and Hispanic residents (47%), and was least commonly used by individuals who lived in areas with a high percentage of African-American and Hispanic residents (35%). Hispanics (odds ratio 0.51, 95% confidence interval 0.29–0.91) and African Americans (0.56, 0.44–0.71) were less likely to use hospice if they lived in a census tract with a high percentage of both African Americans and Hispanics than if they lived in a low minority tract. African Americans and whites were less likely to receive hospice care if they lived in a census tract with a high percentage of Hispanics than if they lived in a low minority area.


Increasing hospice use may require interventions to improve the delivery of hospice care in minority communities.

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We thank Joan Warren, PhD for her helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute (R01 CA112451). Partial support was also received from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (P01 HS010856).

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Correspondence to Jennifer S. Haas MD, MSPH.

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Haas, J.S., Earle, C.C., Orav, J.E. et al. Lower Use of Hospice by Cancer Patients who Live in Minority Versus White Areas. J GEN INTERN MED 22, 396–399 (2007).

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