Persistence of Racial Disparities in Advance Care Plan Documents Among Nursing Home Residents

Authors


Address correspondence to Howard Degenholtz, PhD, Department of Health Services Administration, University of Pittsburgh, 3708 5th Avenue, Suite 300, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. E-mail: degen@pitt.edu

Abstract

This paper analyzes the association between race and the presence of advance care plan documents (living wills, do not resuscitate (DNR) orders, and do not hospitalize (DNH) orders) in nursing home residents. We conducted secondary analysis of publicly available survey data from the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey—Nursing Home Component, a nationally representative survey of nursing home residents in the United States. There were 3,747 participants in the survey, weighted to represent 1.56 million nursing home residents in the United States. We found that 20% of U.S. nursing home residents in 1996 had documentation of living wills, 48% had DNR orders, and 4% had DNH orders. African Americans are about one-third as likely as Caucasians to have living wills and one-fifth as likely as Caucasians to have DNR orders; Hispanics are about one-third as likely as Caucasians to have DNR orders and just as likely as Caucasians to have living wills. In conclusion, we found that the presence of advance care plans is related to race, even after controlling for health and other demographic factors. These findings call attention to an area where further research is needed to determine whether residents' (and their families') preferences are being elicited and documented.

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