Importance of a Cross-Cultural Approach in Hospice and Palliative Care

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In recent times, the use of hospice care has been increasing around the world. Despite the increase in utilization rates of hospice services, there is a disparity that exists among non-Western minorities in accessing hospice and palliative care services. Individuals belonging to cultures from Africa, Asia, Australia, Latin America, and the Middle East, experience significant disparities when accessing and utilizing hospice services. It is believed that people from these backgrounds access hospice services less frequently and when they do, a lower level of satisfaction is reported. Herbstsomer and Stahl (1) present a cross-cultural approach to hospice care which will decrease this disparity.

A study conducted by Herbstsomer and Stahl (1) reviews the literature on the experience of patients from non-Western and minority cultural backgrounds in using hospice and palliative care services. Researchers searched online databases for studies outlining the experiences of family members and patients while receiving hospice services. Major themes were identified which included: communication and the flow of information, perceptions of hospice and palliative care, and compatibility with cultural beliefs.

Communication plays an important role in the majority of hospice and palliative settings. This is because minority cultures rely on multiple sources of information when making decisions about their healthcare needs. This may be fueled by an inherent mistrust of physicians or due to differing cultural beliefs.

Similarly, most patients in this review had very little knowledge of hospice and palliative services, which is another barrier to access. Non-Western patients also have different needs that must be addressed at the end of their life to ensure quality care. Due to this, for many patients, being in their home environment is the most effective way of meeting cultural expectations.

Overall, a cross-cultural approach is recommended by the researchers to ensure a decrease in the disparity experienced by minorities utilizing hospice and palliative care services. A cross-cultural approach focuses on developing outreach programs, respecting individual preferences, and advocating for more inclusive hospice facilities. This is done to increase the understanding that healthcare providers possess of different cultures.

  1. Herbstsomer, R. A., & Stahl, S. T. (2020). Cross-cultural experiences of hospice and Palliative Care Services: A thematic analysis. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying84(2), 551–566.