Physician knowledge and beliefs toward hospice and the effect on hospice referral in El Paso, Texas

Cynthia Sanchez, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Hospice care has existed in the United States for over 20 years yet referral rates to hospice services are still well under the 180 days allowed by the Medicare Hospice Benefit. The average length of stay in El Paso is 56.8. The aim of this study was to ascertain physician’s knowledge and attitudes towards hospice referral in the El Paso County. Particular issues to be addressed were: Physician’s knowledge of patient’s eligibility criteria and perception of the type of services provided by hospice. Other issues included, physician’s comfort level and willingness to determine terminal diagnosis and to discuss hospice services. Furthermore, physician’s perceptions of barriers to hospice referrals and how those perceptions differ between physicians who refer as compared to those who do not refer. There were seven hypothesis tested to determine physicians knowledge and perceptions of hospice services. Using a mail-survey developed by Ogle, Mavis and Wang, this study surveyed 165 cardiologists, pediatric cardiologists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, neurologists, nephrologists, family practice, internists, oncologists, and pediatric oncologists. A t-test was used to test a comparison of means of categorical associations for all hypotheses. The data in the current study however, did not support the hypotheses tested. Results indicated that physicians (52%) are knowledgeable with the eligibility criteria for hospice and that 95% are knowledgeable of the services hospice offers. Research findings appear to indicate physicians are not the hindering factor when making referrals to hospice. Physicians (46%) felt that one of the strongest barriers to hospice referrals is the patient/family unwillingness to accept hospice services. This offers an opportunity for future research in patients/families behavioral attitudes and beliefs toward death and dying issues and their perception of hospice services.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Sanchez, Cynthia, "Physician knowledge and beliefs toward hospice and the effect on hospice referral in El Paso, Texas" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1462439.