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CancerLynx - we prowl the net
February 23, 2004

How to Improve Palliative Care for African-Americans
Carol Barnett

This coming week, February 25-27, physicians, nurses, community leaders and educators will meet in Atlanta to discuss the issues facing African-Americans living with difficult symptoms of chronic disease, including cancer pain.

While cancer pain and other symptoms can often be treated, there are difficult cases that require special care. And, as patients live longer with chronic disease, managing the pain and other symptoms becomes important for two reasons. First, is the issue of quality of life. People should not have to suffer when treatment options exist. Second is the economic issue: inadequate palliative care can lead to costly, complex emergency care for relief of pain and other symptoms.

Palliative care is the total active care of patients who have received a diagnosis of a serious, life-threatening illness. Aggressive control of pain and other symptoms and attention to the psychological, social and spiritual issues is paramount. The goal of palliative care is achievement of the best possible quality of life for patients and their families.1

The conference will help participants broaden their knowledge of cultural issues related to end-of-life care in the African-American community and provide an understanding of African American perspectives. Specifically, the conference will address the extent to which ethnicity is manifested in loss and grief, cultural barriers to equitable care at the end of life, pain management, hospice care, organizing community coalitions, fundraising, the role of spirituality in end-of-life care and end-of-life choices including advance directives, do not resuscitate (DNR) orders-and more.  The conference is intended to inform, inspire and empower participants.

On Thursday, February 26th, J. Donald Schumacher, PsyD, President and CEO of NHPCO will present at the session:  Coming Home: The Future of Hospice and Palliative Care for African Americans along with Myra Christopher, President and CEO of the Midwest Bioethics Center; Margaret Jordan, AMP, MPH, Executive Vice President Corporate Affairs of the Texas Health Resources; and Richard Payne, MD, Chief of Pain & Palliative Service Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Founder, Initiative to Improve Palliative Care for African Americans (IIPCA).

For information about the conference, please visit

For more information contact IIPCA at: or
North General Hospital Annex
1824 Madison Avenue, Room 130
New York, NY 10035
(212) 423-4870 or

Cancer Pain Relief and Palliative Care. Technical Report Series 804. Geneva, World Health Organization, 1990. IIPCA also aims to provide access to such care by shaping public policy though forums and publications.

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