At the End of Life, Talk Helps Bridge a Racial Divide – NYTimes.com

An interesting piece on how black and white patients in the US initially approach palliative care discussions. There may be some parallels north of the border as well as how different communities, given their history, religion, and culture also approach such discussions.

Encouragingly, if one has the empathetic approaches below, the initial suspicions and reticence disappears, resulting in a more humane death for the terminally ill. Quote:

What made the difference? Providing patients and their families useful information in plain English, with compassion and clarity, enabling them to make choices in keeping with their desires and beliefs. Input from extended family, clergy members and parishioners was welcomed, and concern for disparity openly discussed. These exchanges, caring, honest and culturally aware, are the exception in modern American medicine. Provide them to all, I believe, and conventional wisdom will shift.

The suspicion evident in the tensed shoulders of the people I convene again and again in the alcove next to the I.C.U. fades remarkably quickly with just a modicum of empathy, truth and a rational, medically sound alternative to treatment that is often harsh and without benefit. And, should intensive care be chosen, those who provide it can be assured the decision is well informed.

Do this, and race — almost — becomes irrelevant.

At the End of Life, Talk Helps Bridge a Racial Divide – NYTimes.com.

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