Minority Patients are Less Likely to Undergo Withdrawal of Care After Spontaneous Intracerebral Hemorrhage

Neurocrit Care. 2018 Dec;29(3):419-425. doi: 10.1007/s12028-018-0554-4.


Background: Prior studies of patients in the intensive care unit have suggested racial/ethnic variation in end-of-life decision making. We sought to evaluate whether race/ethnicity modifies the implementation of comfort measures only status (CMOs) in patients with spontaneous, non-traumatic intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH).

Methods: We analyzed data from the Ethnic/Racial Variations of Intracerebral Hemorrhage (ERICH) study, a prospective cohort study specifically designed to enroll equal numbers of white, black, and Hispanic subjects. ICH patients aged ≥ 18 years were enrolled in ERICH at 42 hospitals in the USA from 2010 to 2015. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were implemented to evaluate the association between race/ethnicity and CMOs after adjustment for potential confounders.

Results: A total of 2705 ICH cases (912 black, 893 Hispanic, 900 white) were included in this study (mean age 62 [SD 14], female sex 1119 [41%]). CMOs patients comprised 276 (10%) of the entire cohort; of these, 64 (7%) were black, 79 (9%) Hispanic, and 133 (15%) white (univariate p < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, compared to whites, blacks were half as likely to be made CMOs (OR 0.50, 95% CI 0.34-0.75; p = 0.001), and no statistically significant difference was observed for Hispanics. All three racial/ethnic groups had similar mortality rates at discharge (whites 12%, blacks 9%, and Hispanics 10%; p = 0.108). Other factors independently associated with CMOs included age (p < 0.001), premorbid modified Rankin Scale (p < 0.001), dementia (p = 0.008), admission Glasgow Coma Scale (p = 0.009), hematoma volume (p < 0.001), intraventricular hematoma volume (p < 0.001), lobar (p = 0.032) and brainstem (p < 0.001) location and endotracheal intubation (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: In ICH, black patients are less likely than white patients to have CMOs. However, in-hospital mortality is similar across all racial/ethnic groups. Further investigation is warranted to better understand the causes and implications of racial disparities in CMO decisions.

Keywords: End-of-life care; Intracerebral hemorrhage; Race and ethnicity.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Black or African American / ethnology*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / therapy*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Comfort / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States
  • White People / ethnology*
  • Withholding Treatment / statistics & numerical data*