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Medical University of South Carolina

Project Overview

This project, Palliative Care Services for Urban African Americans, was a collaboration between the Program in Bioethics at The Medical University of South Carolina and the Center for the Study of Aging  with Charleston, South Carolina's Enterprise Community to investigate end-of-life attitudes, beliefs and needs among the area's African-Americans. The Enterprise Community comprises 18 of Charleston's inner-city neighborhood associations, lay health workers and community and religious leaders.

Local hospice programs provide end-of-life care, but most of Charleston's African-American residents do not choose hospice care as they or their loved ones near life's end. Instead, they often die in the hospital, frequently separated from family and friends.

University researchers studied African-American approaches to death, why African-Americans decline hospice care and their preferences for end-of-life care. Area residents participated in focus groups and structured interviews, providing rich information for the study.

The project built on national surveys of preferences for end-of-life care among diverse subcultures in America, as well as on previous studies of values, ethnic traditions and beliefs within the African-American community.

Contact Information

Principal Investigator:
Jerome E. Kurent, M.D., M.P.H.
135 Rutledge Avenue
Rutledge Towers, 12th Floor
Charleston, SC 29425-0591
Phone: 843.792.4554
Fax: 843.792.7285
Email: [email protected]

Web site:

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Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care was a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation dedicated to long-term changes in health care institutions to substantially improve care for dying people and their families.