Attitudes and Preferences of Korean-American Older Adults and Caregivers on End-of-Life Care


  • Related paper presentation: Kwak J, Salmon JR. Korean Americans' preferences for and barriers to end-of-life care planning and use of palliative care services. Presented at the Gerontological Society of America, Washington, DC, 2004.

Address correspondence to Jung Kwak, MSW, PhD, The Center on Age and Community/Applied Gerontology, School of Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Enderis Hall 1055, P.O. Box 786, Milwaukee, WI 53201. E-mail:


A growing body of literature suggests that diverse attitudes toward the end of life exist across and within ethnic minority groups. This focus-group pilot study examined social and cultural factors influencing views of Korean-American older adults and caregivers on advance care planning and hospice care. A total of 20 older adults and 16 caregivers in west central Florida participated in one of four focus groups. This study found diverse attitudes among Korean Americans toward end-of-life care and cultural and structural barriers to advance care planning and hospice use. Older adults and caregivers both expressed a lack of knowledge about advance care planning and hospice and agreed that the family would make the final decision about the end-of-life care, while acknowledging the challenge of initiating communications about treatment preferences. They interpreted the Korean value of filial piety to support both curative and palliative treatment. The traditional norm of home death and importance of physician communication influenced preferences for hospice and advance care planning, respectively. Future outreach and education efforts should include development of culturally sensitive educational and communication tools and collaboration with ethnic community organizations and healthcare providers in the dissemination and education of these instruments.