December 1, 2019

A Review of the Literature on Native Hawaiian End-of-Life Care: Implications for Research and Practice

Shelley M. Wong RD; Martina Kamaka MD; Dee-Ann L. Carpenter MD; and Elisabeth M. Seamon MPH

Hawai’i Journal of Health & Social Welfare

The need for cultural understanding is particularly important in end-of-life (EOL) care planning as the use of EOL care in minority populations is disproportionately lower than those who identify as Caucasian. Data regarding the use of EOL care services by Native Hawaiians in Hawai‘i and the United States is limited but expected to be similarly disproportionate as other minorities. In a population with a lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of deaths related to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, as compared to the state of Hawai‘i as a whole, our objective was to review the current literature to understand the usage and perceptions of EOL care planning in the Native Hawaiian population. We searched ten electronic databases and after additional screening, seven articles were relevant to our research purpose. We concluded that limited data exists regarding EOL care use specifically in Native Hawaiians. The available literature highlighted the importance of understanding family and religion influences, educating staff on culturally appropriate EOL care communication, and the need for more research on the topic. The paucity of data in EOL care and decision-making in Native Hawaiians is concerning and it is evident this topic needs more study. From national statistics it looks as though this is another health disparate area that needs to be addressed and is especially relevant when considering the rapid increase in seniors in our population.

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