Items in AFP with MESH term: Attitude to Death
ABSTRACT: Ethnic minorities currently compose approximately one third of the population of the United States. The U.S. model of health care, which values autonomy in medical decision making, is not easily applied to members of some racial or ethnic groups. Cultural factors strongly influence patients' reactions to serious illness and decisions about end-of-life care. Research has identified three basic dimensions in end-of-life treatment that vary culturally: communication of "bad news"; locus of decision making; and attitudes toward advance directives and end-of-life care. In contrast to the emphasis on "truth telling" in the United States, it is not uncommon for health care professionals outside the United States to conceal serious diagnoses from patients, because disclosure of serious illness may be viewed as disrespectful, impolite, or even harmful to the patient. Similarly, with regard to decision making, the U.S. emphasis on patient autonomy may contrast with preferences for more family-based, physician-based, or shared physician- and family-based decision making among some cultures. Finally, survey data suggest lower rates of advance directive completion among patients of specific ethnic backgrounds, which may reflect distrust of the U.S. health care system, current health care disparities, cultural perspectives on death and suffering, and family dynamics. By paying attention to the patient's values, spirituality, and relationship dynamics, the family physician can elicit and follow cultural preferences.
ABSTRACT: Grief and depression present similarly in patients who are dying. Conventional symptoms (e.g., frequent crying, weight loss, thoughts of death) used to assess for depression in these patients may be imprecise because these symptoms are also present in preparatory grief and as a part of the normal dying process. Preparatory grief is experienced by virtually all patients who are dying and can be facilitated with psychosocial support and counseling. Ongoing pharmacotherapy is generally not beneficial and may even be harmful to patients who are grieving. Evidence of disturbed self-esteem, hopelessness, an active desire to die and ruminative thoughts about death and suicide are indicative of depression in patients who are dying. Physicians should have a low threshold for treating depression in patients nearing the end of life because depression is associated with tremendous suffering and poor quality of life.
Mourners' Rights - Patient Education
End-of-Life Care and Family Practice - Editorials
A Daughter Estranged from Her Dying Father - Curbside Consultation
Comforting a Grieving Parent - Curbside Consultation