Although health disparities are well documented, the extent to which they affect end-of-life care is unknown. Limited research funding leads to sparse and often contradictory palliative care literature, with few studies on causal mechanisms. This article explores the psychosocial, cultural, and spiritual health disparities existing in palliative and end-of-life care with the goal of identifying future research needs. This article reports efforts to determine knowledge gaps related to health disparities in psychosocial, cultural, and spiritual aspects of end-of-life care in which the authors draw upon recent literature from multiple databases. Although few data are available, studies show that minorities make little use of hospice, often because of lack of knowledge about hospice or palliative care, family-centered cultures, and preferences for more aggressive end-of-life care than hospice allows. The authors conclude that future research should include a search for theoretical and causal mechanisms; prospective longitudinal investigations; diverse patients, conditions, contexts, and settings; methodological diversity and rigor; and interdisciplinary, culturally sensitive interventions.
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