Researchers Probe Race’s Role in Advance Care Planning

A new study has examined whether the color of someone’s skin could affect advance care planning — but the researchers behind it caution that the verdict might not yet be in.

The paper, which is titled “Advance Care Planning in Skilled Nursing Facilities: A Multisite Examination of Professional Judgments” appeared in Tuesday’s edition of the academic journal The Gerontologist. It looked at the whether the race of skilled nursing facility residents and providers influenced professional judgments as to when advance care planning was needed as well as feelings of responsibility for ensuring ACP discussions.

Advance care planning is meant to determine what would happen to someone if they are ever unable to speak for themselves. Lack of such planning may increase hospitalizations and impact the quality of life for SNF residents, the researchers noted.


In the paper, researchers surveyed nurses and social workers at 29 urban SNFs located in northeast Ohio, and asked them to rate vignettes describing eight typical SNF residents. The results were ultimately inconclusive, and researchers didn’t find that the race of the provider, resident, or the interaction of the two influenced advance care planning.

But more study is needed on the topic to explore possible forms of structural racism, Dr. Kristin Baughman, one of the researchers, told Skilled Nursing News. Baughman is an associate professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University.

“The problem with our findings about race is that we only surveyed nurses and social workers in skilled nursing facilities in urban areas, so the findings are not generalizable to non-urban SNFs and maybe not to SNFs outside of our region,” Baughman explained in an email. “We were excited to see that the race of the provider and the race of the resident did not influence professional judgments but want to be cautious about overstating our results. The other problem is that professional judgments in response to vignettes does not necessarily reflect what providers do in practice.”


Written by Tim Regan

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