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Keywords:

  • religious affiliation;
  • uninsured;
  • Medicaid;
  • pain and symptom attitudes;
  • palliative care

Abstract

Many barriers, including being uninsured or having less than comprehensive health insurance coverage, reduce access to palliative and end–of-life care by inner city minorities. Medicaid or Medicare coverage alone can limit options for pain and symptom management, especially when late referrals make it more difficult to achieve symptom control. Patient affiliation with a religion could offset perceived difficulties with pain medication as well as negative pain and symptom attitudes. Data were analyzed from the most recent assessments of 146 African Americans and Latinos enrolled in an outpatient palliative care unit of an inner city hospital. Fifty-seven percent were receiving palliative care for cancer. Compared with other patients, patients with a religious affiliation did not differ regarding pain medication stress. Uninsured patients with a religious affiliation reported more hopeful pain and symptom attitudes, while patients with a religious affiliation covered only by Medicaid reported less hopeful pain and symptom attitudes. More hopeful pain and symptom attitudes by religious-affiliated, uninsured patients may reveal adequate coping, yet also conceal problem domains. Conversely, less hopeful attitudes by religious-affiliated patients covered only by Medicaid serve as clues to coping difficulties and problem domains. Palliative care programs should carefully consider how to integrate religious support networks as pipelines for program referrals and potential partners for care. Cancer 2007. © 2006 American Cancer Society.