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Keywords:

  • Hospice;
  • end-of-life care;
  • cancer;
  • Hispanics;
  • minority health

Objective. To investigate rates of hospice use between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with cancer using data from a large, population-based study.

Data Sources. Secondary data from the linked SEER-Medicare database including the SEER areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose–Monterey, California, and the state of New Mexico. All subjects were Hispanic or non-Hispanic whites, aged 67 and older, had a cancer diagnosis of breast, colorectal, lung, or prostate cancer from 1991–1996, and died of cancer from 1991–1998.

Study Design. This study employed a retrospective cohort design to compare rates of hospice use between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites across patient characteristics and over time.

Principal Findings. Rates of hospice use were similar for Hispanics (39.2 percent) and non-Hispanic whites (41.5 percent). In a bivariate logistic regression model, Hispanics were significantly less likely to use hospice than non-Hispanic whites (OR 0.91; 95 percent CI 0.85–0.97). However, after adjusting for age, marital status, sex, educational attainment, income, urban versus rural residence, and type of insurance using multivariate logistic regression analysis, the estimated odds for being a hospice user among Hispanics is similar to the odds of being a hospice user among non-Hispanic whites (OR 1.05; 95 percent CI 0.98–1.13). Stratified analyses revealed significant differences between ethnic groups in the use of hospice by type of insurance and SEER area, indicating interactions between ethnicity and these variables.

Conclusions. Our findings indicate similar rates of hospice use for Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites diagnosed with one of the four leading cancers. Additional studies from other national registries may be necessary to confirm these findings.