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Doctors Say It's Hard to Talk about End-of-Life Care

Doctors often find it hard to talk with patients about end-of-life care, a new study shows. And differences in culture, ethnic group and language make things even more difficult, they told researchers. The study was based on a survey. In all, 1,040 doctors in training (residents) answered the questions. They were asked if they had difficulty talking about end-of-life care with seriously ill patients and their families. Almost everyone said yes. They also were asked about the top 3 problems that came up when they had these talks with someone from a different ethnic group. They named language differences, the patient's or family's spiritual beliefs about death and dying, and the doctor's ignorance of the patient's cultural values and practices. Other problems listed were the patient's or family's limited understanding of medical information and mistrust of the health-care system.

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