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Health Soc Care Community. 2013 Sep;21(5):519-29. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12038. Epub 2013 May 3.

'Where do I go from here'? A cultural perspective on challenges to the use of hospice services.

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Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, School of Nursing, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.


Do hospice services as shaped by a western perspective adequately fulfil the needs of persons from non-Western cultures? Based on a Western view of palliative care, the vision outlined in the New Zealand Palliative Care Strategy (2001) is to deliver palliative care services, including hospice services, to all patients and their families requiring them in the context of an increasingly pluralistic and multicultural society. It is predicted that over the next two decades the proportion of people identifying as Māori, Pacific and Asian will dramatically increase within New Zealand. Ministry of Health information provided through a GAP analysis identified hospices as facing access-to-care pressures for Māori, Pacific and Asian patients. It is therefore critical to identify the challenges to hospice service access for Māori, Asian and Pacific patients. This project involved qualitative interviews with 37 cancer patients (Māori, Pacific and Asian self-identified ethnicities), whānau/family and bereaved whanua/family, as well as 15 health professionals (e.g. referring GPs, oncologists, allied health professionals) within one District Health Board. Patients and their families included both those who utilised hospice services, as well as those non-users of hospice services identified by a health professional as having palliative care needs. Challenges to hospice service utilisation reported in the findings include a lack of awareness in the communities of available services, as well as continuing misconceptions concerning the nature of hospice services. Language barriers were particularly reported for Asian patients and their families. Issues concerning the ethnic representativeness of the hospice services staff were raised. The findings highlight the importance of patient and family knowledge of hospice care for utilisation of services. This information can be used for future planning to enable hospices to both provide high quality evidence based palliative care services for patients and families and provide consultative services to primary healthcare providers in the community.


Asian; Māori; Pacific; culture; end-of-life care; hospice services; palliative care; terminal care

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