Disparities in lung cancer treatment and palliative care are well documented. However, the mechanisms underlying these disparities are not fully understood. In this study, we evaluated racial and ethnic differences in beliefs and attitudes about lung cancer treatment and palliative care among patients receiving a new diagnosis of lung cancer.
Patients were recruited from four medical centers in New York City and surveyed about their beliefs regarding lung cancer care, including disease-directed treatments, palliative and end-of-life care, and fatalistic and spiritual beliefs. We used univariate and multiple regression analyses to compare the distribution of beliefs among minority (black and Hispanic) and nonminority patients.
Of the 335 patients, 21% were black, 20% were Hispanic, and 59% were nonminority. Beliefs about chemotherapy and radiotherapy were similar across the three groups (P > .05), whereas black patients were more likely to believe that surgery might cause lung cancer to spread (P = .008). Fatalistic beliefs potentially affecting cancer treatment were more common among both minority groups (P ≤ .02). No significant differences were found in attitudes toward clinician communication about cancer prognosis (P > .05). However, both blacks and Hispanics were more likely to have misconceptions about advance directives and hospice care (P ≤ .02).
Similarities and differences in beliefs about disease-directed treatment were observed between minority and nonminority patients with lung cancer. Minority patients hold more fatalistic views about the disease and misperceptions about advance care planning and hospice care. Further research is needed to assess the impact of these beliefs on decisions about lung cancer care and patient outcomes.