Send to

Choose Destination
J Gen Intern Med. 2005 Aug;20(8):703-9.

Focus group findings about the influence of culture on communication preferences in end-of-life care.

Author information

Division of General Internal Medicine, Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, CA 90073, USA.



Little guidance is available for health care providers who try to communicate with patients and their families in a culturally sensitive way about end-of-life care.


To explore the content and structure of end-of-life discussions that would optimize decision making by conducting focus groups with two diverse groups of patients that vary in ethnicity and socioeconomic status.


Six focus groups were conducted; 3 included non-Hispanic white patients recruited from a University hospital (non-Hispanic white groups) and 3 included African-American patients recruited from a municipal hospital (African-American groups). A hypothetical scenario of a dying relative was used to explore preferences for the content and structure of communication.


Thirty-six non-Hispanic white participants and 34 African-American participants.


Content analysis of focus group transcripts.


Non-Hispanic white participants were more exclusive when recommending family participants in end-of-life discussions while African-American participants preferred to include more family, friends and spiritual leaders. Requested content varied as non-Hispanic white participants desired more information about medical options and cost implications while African-American participants requested spiritually focused information. Underlying values also differed as non-Hispanic white participants expressed more concern with quality of life while African-American participants tended to value the protection of life at all costs.


The groups differed broadly in their preferences for both the content and structure of end-of-life discussions and on the values that influence those preferences. Further research is necessary to help practitioners engage in culturally sensitive end-of-life discussions with patients and their families by considering varying preferences for the goals of end-of-life care communication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center