Impact of Race and Ethnicity on End-of-Life Experiences for Children With Cancer


BACKGROUND: Racial and ethnic disparities in the provision of end-of-life care are well described in the adult oncology literature. However, the impact of racial and ethnic disparities at end of life in the context of pediatric oncology remains poorly understood. OBJECTIVE: To investigate associations between end-of-life experiences and race/ethnicity for pediatric patients with cancer. METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted on 321 children with cancer enrolled on a palliative care service at an urban pediatric cancer who died between 2011 and 2015. RESULTS: Compared to white patients, black patients were more likely to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR; odds ratio [OR]: 4.109, confidence interval [CI]: 1.432-11.790, = .009) and underwent 3.136 (CI: 1.433-6.869, = .004) CPR events for every 1 white patient CPR event. The remainder of variables related to treatment and end-of-life care were not significantly correlated with race. Hispanic patients were less likely to receive cancer-directed therapy within 28 days prior to death (OR: 0.493, CI: 0.247-0.982, = .044) as compared to non-Hispanic patients, yet they were more likely to report a goal of cure over comfort as compared to non-Hispanic patients (OR: 3.094, CI: 1.043-9.174, = .042). The remainder of variables were not found to be significantly correlated with ethnicity. CONCLUSIONS: Race and ethnicity influenced select end-of-life variables for pediatric palliative oncology patients treated at a large urban pediatric cancer center. Further multicenter investigation is needed to ascertain the impact of racial/ethnic disparities on end-of-life experiences of children with cancer.

Publication Title

The American journal of hospice & palliative care