Katja Elbert-Avila

Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, United States

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Publications (3)10.32 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To examine the characteristics of hospice enrollees with dementia who were discharged alive because their condition stabilized or improved and predictors of death in the year after discharge. Cross-sectional analysis of clinical and administrative data. For-profit hospice provider. Hospice enrollees aged 65 and older with an admission diagnosis of dementia who died or were discharged alive because their condition stabilized or improved between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2003. Demographic variables and hospice length of stay; data did not include functional status or comorbidities. Of 24,111 enrollees with dementia, 1,204 (5.0%) were discharged alive because their condition stabilized or improved; the remainder died while receiving hospice. The median length of stay for those who died was 12 versus 236 days for those discharged alive. Those discharged alive were more likely to be female or have a length of stay exceeding 180 days and less likely to be in the oldest age group (≥85), be African American, or reside in a nursing home. In a subgroup of 303 patients discharged alive, 75.5% were still alive at 1 year; none of the demographic variables were associated with death after hospice discharge. A small proportion of hospice enrollees with dementia was discharged alive. Most died shortly after enrollment. Future research should examine other factors that may predict which hospice enrollees with dementia are likely to be discharged alive and their subsequent trajectory, such as functional status, comorbidities, and preferences for care.
    Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 08/2012; 60(9):1638-44. · 4.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite disparities in health care access and quality, African Americans are underrepresented in many areas of clinical investigation, including research in end-of-life care. Because of the importance of surrogate reports in assessing the quality of end-of-life care, this study examined racial differences in next-of-kin participation in an ongoing study of satisfaction with end-of-life care. The parent study includes after-death interviews with next-of-kin of elderly African Americans and Caucasians who died at Duke Hospital. This analysis included next-of-kin of elders who died at Duke Hospital from December 1, 2003 to December 31, 2004. During this period, there were 471 decedents whose next-of-kin were eligible for participation. Of these, 133 (28%) were African American and 338 (72%) were Caucasian. There were no racial differences in completion, contact, or overall response rates. Of those contacted, 39.8% of African Americans and 37.8% of Caucasians completed the study. In multivariate analysis, only the relationship of the next-of-kin to the decedent was an independent predictor of study completion. Children of decedents were significantly more likely to participate than spouses (odds ratio [OR] 2.1 [1.14, 3.86]). In this analysis, next-of-kin of African American and Caucasian decedents were equally likely to participate in an after-death interview assessing satisfaction with end-of-life care. The use of racially concordant interviewers, subject identification with the institution, and the absence of socioeconomic constraints may partly explain these findings. Given the growing diversity of the U.S. population, researchers in end-of-life care must use strategies aimed at recruiting racially and ethnically diverse samples.
    Journal of Palliative Medicine 11/2006; 9(5):1076-85. · 1.89 Impact Factor
  • Kimberly S Johnson, Katja I Elbert-Avila, James A Tulsky
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    ABSTRACT: Spirituality is an important part of African-American culture and is often cited as an explanation for the more-aggressive treatment preferences of some African Americans at the end of life. This paper reviews the literature on spiritual beliefs that may influence the treatment decisions of African Americans. Medline 1966 to February 2003, Psych Info 1872 to February 2003, and CINAHL 1982 to February 2003 were searched for studies exploring spiritual beliefs that may influence the treatment preferences of African Americans. All candidate papers were examined for quality, and data were extracted on study population, design, analysis, and results to identify recurrent themes. Forty studies met inclusion criteria. Recurrent themes describing spiritual beliefs that may influence the treatment preferences of African Americans throughout the course of illness include the following: spiritual beliefs and practices are a source of comfort, coping, and support and are the most effective way to influence healing; God is responsible for physical and spiritual health; and the doctor is God's instrument. Spiritual beliefs specifically addressing treatment preferences at the end of life include: only God has power to decide life and death, there are religious prohibitions against physician-assisted death or advance directives limiting life-sustaining treatments, and divine intervention and miracles occur. For some African Americans, spiritual beliefs are important in understanding and coping with illness and may provide a framework within which treatment decisions are made. Given the growing ethnic diversity of the United States, some understanding of the complexities of culture and spirituality is essential for healthcare providers.
    Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 05/2005; 53(4):711-9. · 4.22 Impact Factor