Objective: To investigate rates of hospice use between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with cancer using data from a large, population-based study.
Data sources: Secondary data from the linked SEER-Medicare database including the SEER areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose-Monterey, California, and the state of New Mexico. All subjects were Hispanic or non-Hispanic whites, aged 67 and older, had a cancer diagnosis of breast, colorectal, lung, or prostate cancer from 1991-1996, and died of cancer from 1991-1998.
Study design: This study employed a retrospective cohort design to compare rates of hospice use between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites across patient characteristics and over time.
Principal findings: Rates of hospice use were similar for Hispanics (39.2 percent) and non-Hispanic whites (41.5 percent). In a bivariate logistic regression model, Hispanics were significantly less likely to use hospice than non-Hispanic whites (OR 0.91; 95 percent CI 0.85-0.97). However, after adjusting for age, marital status, sex, educational attainment, income, urban versus rural residence, and type of insurance using multivariate logistic regression analysis, the estimated odds for being a hospice user among Hispanics is similar to the odds of being a hospice user among non-Hispanic whites (OR 1.05; 95 percent CI 0.98-1.13). Stratified analyses revealed significant differences between ethnic groups in the use of hospice by type of insurance and SEER area, indicating interactions between ethnicity and these variables.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate similar rates of hospice use for Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites diagnosed with one of the four leading cancers. Additional studies from other national registries may be necessary to confirm these findings.