Barriers to hospice use among african americans: A systematic review

Karla T. Washington, Denise Bickel-Swenson, Nathan Stephens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The present review was undertaken to explore recent evidence in the professional literature pertaining to use of hospice services by African Americans. The article addresses the research methods that have been used to study African American hospice use, obstacles to African American participation in hospice that have been identified, and interventions designed to increase the number of African Americans using hospice services that have been tested. Results indicate that both qualitative and quantitative methods have identified the following key factors that contribute to the underuse of hospice services by members of the African American community: personal or cultural values in conflict with hospice philosophy, lack of awareness of hospice services, concern about burdening family, economic factors, mistrust of the health care system, and expected lack of ethnic minority employees in hospice agencies. Implications for future social work research and practice with terminally ill African Americans and their families include efforts to quantitatively determine whether the identified key factors contribute significantly in the decisions they make regarding end-of-life care. In addition, social work intervention studies are recommended to offer tested interventions designed to increase the use of hospice services that are cost-effective and culturally competent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-274
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • African American
  • End-of-life
  • Ethnic minority
  • Hospice
  • Systematic review


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