Reducing disparities in the quality of palliative care for older african americans through improved advance care planning: Study design and protocol

Deborah B. Ejem, Nadine Barrett, Ramona L. Rhodes, Maren Olsen, Marie Bakitas, Raegan Durant, Ronit Elk, Karen Steinhauser, Tammie Quest, Rowena J. Dolor, Kimberly Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Advance care planning (ACP) improves end-of-life care for patients and their caregivers. However, only one-third of adults have participated in ACP and rates are substantially lower among African Americans than among whites. Importantly, ACP improves many domains of care where there are racial disparities in outcomes, including receipt of goal-concordant care, hospice use, and provider communication. Yet, few studies have examined the effectiveness of ACP interventions among African Americans. The objectives of reducing disparities in the quality of palliative care for older African Americans through improved advance care planning (EQUAL ACP) are as follows: to compare the effectiveness of two interventions in (1) increasing ACP among African Americans and whites and (2) reducing racial disparities in both ACP and end-of-life care; and to examine whether racial concordance of the interventionist and patient is associated with ACP. EQUAL ACP is a longitudinal, multisite, cluster randomized trial and a qualitative study describing the ACP experience of participants. The study will include 800 adults ≥65 years of age (half African American and half white) from 10 primary care clinics in the South. Eligible patients have a serious illness (advanced cancer, heart failure, lung disease, etc.), disability in activities of daily living, or recent hospitalization. Patients are followed for one year and participate in either a patient-guided, self-management ACP approach, including a Five Wishes form or structured ACP with Respecting Choices First Steps. The primary outcome is formal or informal ACP - completion of advance directives, documented discussions with clinicians, and other written or verbal communication with surrogate decision makers about care preferences. Secondary outcomes assessed through after-death interviews with surrogates of patients who die during the study include receipt of goal-concordant care, health services use in the last year of life, and satisfaction with care. EQUAL ACP is the first large study to assess which strategies are most effective at both increasing rates of ACP and promoting equitable palliative care outcomes for seriously ill African Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S90-S100
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • African Americans
  • advance care planning
  • end of life
  • five wishes
  • racial disparities
  • respecting choices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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