Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Why Hispanics may be less comfortable with hospice

Posted by Elena del Valle on April 8, 2009

By Barbara L. Allan
CEO, SRA Research Group Inc.

Barbara Allan

Barbara Allan

Photo: SRA Research Group, Inc.

SRA Research Group, Inc. (SRA) has found, in the 15 plus years we have been conducting primary research regarding Hospice that most people have heard of it.  Despite this, many don’t really know what it means or what it provides. This is because Hospice falls into the category of “I don’t need it now so I don’t need to know more about it.”  This category of people simply have no desire to learn more.

Once a family comes to grips with the realization that a loved one may require Hospice care, the door opens.  However, we have found the door does not open as wide for Hispanics as it does for white non-Hispanics.

Bearing in mind that Hispanics comprised almost 13% of the United States population in 2000, it is intriguing to understand why they represent only about 4% of Hospice patients, based on 2002-2003 data provided by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO.)

To begin with, the word Hospice, frequently translated into Hospicio, conjures up thoughts related to poverty, asylum, and abandonment. Thus, the word alone sends strong negative signals that can make Hispanics reject the concept before they have invested any time to learn about it.

Further, we have consistently found many Hispanics view their family orientation and connection as a main focus in life. They do not believe anyone can take better care of their loved ones than they. This helps set up another barrier for considering Hospice as an option.

Understanding that Hospice will provide love, comfort and care, as opposed to it being tantamount to abandonment, failure and guilt, are huge hurdles that need to be overcome among many Hispanics before they consider Hospice.

Exposure to other Hispanics who have used and embraced Hospice is one of the best ways to create greater acceptance.  As some Hispanic users have mentioned in surveys:

“The presence of Hospice in our home brought us together. It united our family.”

“When my husband was in Hospice I was able to be with him and hold his hand.

There were people around who could help me, which was wonderful.”

Of additional critical importance is that education, information and communication from Hospice be available in Spanish.

Barbara Allan founded her market research company, SRA Research Group, over 20 years ago after working for market research consultants in New York City and Miami. An important element of most of her research projects involves input from the Hispanic market in the United States as well as Latin America.