Nearly two decades have passed since her mother died, but Ramona Rhodes, a geriatrician and health care researcher, still wonders if
hospice and other end-of-life care would have
eased her mom’s final weeks.
Rhodes’ mother struggled with pain and breathing difficulties in the intensive care unit of a small-town Arkansas
hospital before her death in 1999 at age 49. Despite undergoing several years of treatment after her initial diagnosis
of stage III breast cancer, Rhodes’ mother never discussed
what she wanted to happen if the treatments stopped working.
“I suspect that my mother knew that her prognosis was
poor, and she just didn’t want to talk about it,” Rhodes says.
End-of-life discussions are never easy, but research indicates that patients’ racial and ethnic backgrounds influence
whether they choose hospice and other end-of-life measures.
According to Medicare data from 2015, nearly 51 percent