Palliative Medicine and End of Life Care Between Races in an Academic Intensive Care Unit

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of intensive care medicine




comfort care; critical care; do not resuscitate; end of life; palliative care


Although palliative medicine (PM) is more commonly being integrated into the intensive care unit (ICU), research on racial disparities in this area is lacking. Our objectives were to a) identify racial disparities in utilization of PM consultation for patients who received ICU care and (b) determine if there were differences in the use of code status or PM consultation over time based on race. Retrospective analysis of 571 patients, 18 years and above, at a tertiary care institution who received ICU care and died during their hospital stay. We analyzed two timeframes, 2008-2009 and 2018-2019. Univariate analysis was utilized to evaluate baseline characteristics. A multivariate logistic regression model and interaction values were employed to assess for differential use of PM consultation, do not resuscitate (DNR) orders, and comfort care (CC) orders between races in aggregate and for changes over time. There was a notable increase in Black/African-American (AA) (54% to 61%) and Hispanic/Latino (2% to 3%) patients over time in our population. Compared to White patients, we found no differences between PM consultation and CC orders. There was a lower probability of DNR orders for Black/AA (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.569;  = .049; confidence interval [CI]: 0.324-0.997) and other/unknown/multiracial patients (aOR: 0.389;  = .273; CI: 0.169-0.900). Comparing our earlier time period to the later time period, we found an increased usage of PM for all patients. Interaction values suggest there were no differences between races regarding PM, DNR, and CC orders. PM use has increased over time at our institution. Contrary to the previous literature, there were no differences in the frequency of utilization of PM consultation between races. Further analysis to evaluate the usage of PM in the ICU setting in varying populations and geographic locations is warranted.


Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine