AAHPM: Wealthier Areas Have Higher Hospice Use

Hospice availability linked to higher household incomes and better-educated communities
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Hospice availability appears to be higher in areas where more residents are wealthy, well-educated and young, according to research presented at the annual assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, held in collaboration with the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association from March 25 to 28 in Austin, Texas.

Maria J. Silveira, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, analyzed Medicare data to assess the relationship between county-level hospice availability and county wealth, proportion of residents with a high school diploma, race and ethnicity, and age.

For each 1 percent increase in the proportion of households with incomes above $100,000, the author observed a 16 percent higher chance of being in the next higher category of hospice availability. For each 1 percent increase of high school education, there was a 24 percent higher chance of being in the next higher category of availability. Each 1 percent increase in elderly adults at the county level was linked to a 10 percent lower chance of being in the higher hospice category. No confounding by race or ethnicity was seen.

"To address disparities in the utilization of hospice, policymakers may need to address inequities in the availability of hospice first," the author concludes.

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