Apoyo con Cariño: a pilot randomized controlled trial of a patient navigator intervention to improve palliative care outcomes for Latinos with serious illness

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2015 Apr;49(4):657-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2014.08.011. Epub 2014 Sep 18.


Context: Latinos experience significant health disparities at the end of life compared with non-Latinos.

Objectives: To determine the feasibility of a patient navigator intervention to improve palliative care outcomes for Latino adults with serious illness.

Methods: This was a pilot randomized controlled trial that included 64 Latino adults with life-limiting illness randomized to an intervention or a control group. All participants received a packet of linguistically matched materials on palliative care. In addition, intervention participants received up to five home visits from the bilingual, bicultural patient navigator. Visits focused on addressing barriers to palliative care through education, activation, and culturally tailored messaging. Outcomes included feasibility and advance care planning rates, documentation of pain management discussions in the medical record, and hospice utilization.

Results: Of the 32 patients randomized to the intervention arm, 81% had at least one home visit (range 1-5) with the patient navigator. Overall, advance care planning was higher in the intervention group (47% [n = 15] vs. 25% [n = 8], P = 0.06), and 79% of intervention participants had a discussion about pain management documented in their medical record vs. 54% of control patients (P = 0.05). Hospice enrollment between the two groups (n = 18 decedents) was similar (n = 7 intervention vs. n = 6 control); length of stay in the intervention group was 36.4 ± 51.6 vs. 19.7 ± 33.6 days for control patients (P = 0.39).

Conclusion: A culturally tailored patient navigator intervention was feasible and suggests improved palliative care outcomes for Latinos facing advanced medical illness, justifying a fully powered randomized controlled trial.

Keywords: Patient navigation; health disparities; palliative care.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning / statistics & numerical data
  • Community Health Workers
  • Culturally Competent Care / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Hospice Care / statistics & numerical data
  • House Calls
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multilingualism
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Patient Navigation / methods*
  • Pilot Projects