Cover: Racial Differences in Treatment Intensity at the End of Life Among Older Adults with Heart Failure

Racial Differences in Treatment Intensity at the End of Life Among Older Adults with Heart Failure

Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

Published in: Journal of Palliative Medicine (2024). DOI: 10.1089/jpm.2023.0369

Posted on rand.org Jun 26, 2024

by Sara G. McCleskey, Arturo Vargas Bustamante, Sangeeta C. Ahluwalia, Teryl K. Nuckols, Gerald Kominski, Emmeline Chuang

Background

Black Americans experience the highest prevalence of heart failure (HF) and the worst clinical outcomes of any racial or ethnic group, but little is known about end-of-life care for this population.

Objective

Compare treatment intensity between Black and White older adults with HF near the end of life.

Design

Negative binomial and logistic regression analyses of pooled, cross-sectional data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS).

Setting/Subjects

A total of 1607 U.S. adults aged 65 years and older with HF who identify as Black or White, and whose proxy informant participated in an HRS exit interview between 2002 and 2016.

Measurements

We compared four common measures of treatment intensity at the end of life (number of hospital admissions, receipt of care in an intensive care unit (ICU), utilization of life support, and whether the decedent died in a hospital) between Black and White HF patients, controlling for demographic, social, and health characteristics.

Results

Racial identity was not significantly associated with the number of hospital admissions or admission to an ICU in the last 24 months of life. However, Black HF patients were more likely to spend time on life support (odds ratio [OR] = 2.16, confidence interval [CI] = 1.35-3.44, p = 0.00) and more likely to die in a hospital (OR = 1.53, CI = 1.03-2.28, p = 0.04) than White HF patients.

Conclusion

Black HF patients were more likely to die in a hospital and to spend time on life support than White HF patients. Thoughtful and consistent engagement with HF patients regarding treatment preferences is an important step in addressing inequities.

Research conducted by

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