Racial Differences in Pain Management for Patients Receiving Hospice Care

Staja Q. Booker

Keela A. Herr

Cynthia Wilson Garvan

African American, Caucasian American, pain, racial disparities, evidence-based practice
ONF 2020, 47(2), 228-240. DOI: 10.1188/20.ONF.228-240

Objectives: To investigate racial differences in implementation of 11 evidence-based cancer pain management strategies in a matched sample of patients in hospice.

Sample & Setting: 32 African American and 32 Caucasian American older adults (aged 65 years or older) with cancer pain receiving hospice care in the midwestern United States.

Methods & Variables: Matched cohort secondary data analysis of postintervention data in a cluster randomized controlled trial was used. Main outcomes are the summative and individual Cancer Pain Practice Index scores.

Results: There were few statistically significant or clinically meaningful differences in implementation of individual best practices for pain management by race. Assessment of primary pain characteristics and management of opioid-induced constipation with a bowel regimen was significantly lower in African Americans than in Caucasian Americans.

Implications for Nursing: African American older adults receiving hospice care at the end of life received pain management that was, overall, comparable to matched Caucasian American older adults. Hospice and oncology nurses play a critical role in effective pain management and should continue to implement evidence-based guidelines for pain management into daily practice. Diffusing the hospice model and principles of pain and symptom management into other settings and specialty care areas may reduce widespread pain disparities.

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