Ethnicity seems to play a decisive role in end-of-life choices, according to researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, whose study appears in Cancer.
The Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance study involved 4,214 patients diagnosed with lung or colon cancer in phone interviews. They were asked how willing they would be to use up all their personal financial resources to get life-prolonging treatment. The alternative was less expensive treatment but that which did not assure of a prolonged life.
Interestingly, 80 per cent of the blacks interviewed were willing to use up everything they had to live longer. 72 per cent of Asians and 69 per cent of Hispanics made the same choice. But, only 54 per cent of the whites took this decision.
The research revealed that other factors also made patients more likely to spend more to prolong life and these included being younger, having fewer dependents, being divorced or separated, believing that life was in God's hands and having a higher level of social support.
Michelle Martin, the chief researcher stated, "Any speculation as to why this is would be guessing. The reasons behind these preferences are complex, and require further study."
For one thing, more research is needed to find if other terminal diseases provoked similar responses.
Health-care providers could have a better understanding about tailoring cancer treatment to patients' wishes through this study.