A Review of Race and Ethnicity in Hospice and Palliative Medicine Research: Representation Matters



      Despite documented racial and ethnic disparities in care, there is significant variability in representation, reporting, and analysis of race and ethnic groups in the hospice and palliative medicine (HPM) literature.


      To evaluate the race and ethnic diversity of study participants and the reporting of race and ethnicity data in HPM research.


      Adult patient and/or caregiver-centered research conducted in the U.S. and published as JPSM Original Articles from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2019, were identified. Descriptive analyses were used to summarize the frequency of variables related to reporting of race and ethnicity.


      Of 1253 studies screened, 218 were eligible and reviewed. There were 78 unique race and ethnic group labels. Over 85% of studies included ≥ one non-standard label based on Office of Management and Budget designations. One-quarter of studies lacked an explanation of how race and ethnicity data were collected, and 83% lacked a rationale. Over half did not include race and/or ethnicity in the analysis, and only 14 studies focused on race and/or ethnic health or health disparities. White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander persons were included in 95%, 71%, 43% 37%,10%, and 4% of studies. In 92% of studies the proportion of White individuals exceeded 57.8%, which is their proportion in the U.S. population.


      Our findings suggest there are important opportunities to standardize reporting of race and ethnicity, strive for diversity, equity, and inclusion among research participants, and prioritize the study of racial and ethnic disparities in HPM research.

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