How Cultural Diversity Affects End of Life Care

Your cultural views will likely influence your choices about End of Life healthcare, including final directives and hospice and palliative care.

Final Decision-Making

The American value of autonomy promotes an individual’s right to make his or her own End of Life care decisions, often with input from a healthcare provider.

Yet collective End of Life decision-making is common in many cultures. For example, some Somalis believe that healthcare decisions should involve the family, with the eldest male as the final decision-maker and spokesperson.

Advance Healthcare Directives (AHDs)

Cultural perspectives on End of Life care include completing final directives and managing pain.

An AHD is a legal document that states your final healthcare preferences and identifies a Healthcare Proxy to make medical decisions on your behalf. Appoint a trusted family member or advisor to protect your values, cultural and spiritual beliefs and best interests.

Although ethnic groups differ in their views and use of AHDs, Caucasian and Asian Americans may use AHDs more often than other cultures. Cultures that include the concept of karma may be less inclined toward AHDs.

Pain Management

Culture may affect a person’s perspectives on pain management. North American cultures favor hospice and palliative care to manage pain at End of Life. Palliative and hospice care focus on relieving suffering and improving quality of life through physical, emotional, and spiritual support to a patient’s unique needs. Hospice serves people in the last stages of life and provides grief support for surviving loved ones.

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