Advance Directives Planning Among Mexican-Americans in Dallas-Fort Worth




Santiago, Carmen


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Santiago, Carmen C., Advance Directives Planning Among Mexican-American in Dallas Fort Worth. Doctor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences), May 2005, 133 pp., bibliography, 33 titles. This qualitative study explored the knowledge base of advance directives planning among Mexican-Americans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In addition, the study explored areas that influenced their willingness to engage in advance directives and their preferences related to family collective decision-making. Two focus groups, representing two different populations were conducted. One focus group represented second generation Mexican-Americans, 65 years old and older, both men and women that were hospitalized or participated in home health care programs between January 2004 and January 2005. The second focus group consisted of Mexican-Americans, 18 years and older who were family members or caregivers of sick elders in the same time frame. Questions utilized to gather the knowledge and beliefs of the focus group participants, were based on a previous study by Dr. Morrison and Dr. Meir conducted in New York. Participant’s responses were analyzed using NVIVO software. Findings indicated a lack of knowledge of advance directives and confusion about state wills and living wills among Mexian-Americans in Dallas-Fort Worth. A majority of the focus group participants expressed a preference for their older children to make the decisions of their end of life care. This was due to a belief that their child is better educated and could make the right decision. Participants also revealed the importance of a family collective decision. This belief in family unity kept them from excluding members from the decision of end of life care. Another interesting finding from this study was a majority of the participants had already made funeral plans such as arranging for the lot to be buried in and funeral service pre-paid, but had not considered advance care directives. According to both groups of participants, arranging for their funeral service gave them a peace of mind and dignity since they had established where they will be interred. These findings suggested that the Mexican-American population needs to be informed about this legal process. Mexican-Americans need to be aware that the State provides ways to obtain this documentation at no cost. Health care providers should be involved in the education about advance directives and encourage their patients to learn more and consider obtaining one. Further research studying Mexican American knowledge and beliefs, at state level and a comparison among states should be explored. Keywords; advance directives, decision making, end of life, ethical issues