Tele-Palliative Care Among Underserved Patients: Considerations for Future Research to Ensure Equity for All Patients


Aug 31, 2022

Black senior woman with cancer holds up a pill bottle while on a telemedicine appointment on her phone at home, photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

Photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated and shed light on inequities in health care in the United States. Patients who have been historically underserved are demographically diverse: often racial/ethnic minorities, of low socioeconomic status, have low health literacy, limited English language proficiency, and/or live in rural areas. Underserved patients have been historically marginalized in health care and may experience extensive barriers to palliative care, including mistrust and even discrimination in health care in addition to poor access to already-limited palliative care resources. Together, this may exacerbate existing gaps in care to meet the needs of people living with serious illness. Telehealth may be a particularly promising mode of palliative care by engaging patients across long distances and facilitating access to existing palliative care resources.…

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Julia I. Bandini is an associate behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation and a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Natalie C. Ernecoff is an associate policy researcher at RAND. Dio Kavalieratos is an associate professor and director of Research and Quality for the Division of Palliative Medicine, within the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at Emory University. Sangeeta C. Ahluwalia is associate research department director of the Behavioral and Policy Sciences Department and a senior policy researcher at RAND.