Equity in End-of-Life Care: Unraveling Disparities Among Nursing Home Residents with Alzheimer’s Disease or Related Dementia

Pictures of Professors Zhang and Chung

From left: Ning Zhang (Assistant Professor, Public Health & Health Sciences) and Joohyun Chung (Assistant Professor, Nursing)

Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia (ADRD) can be debilitating conditions. Yet, like in so many other areas of healthcare, the data suggests significant disparities in access to necessary care for ADRD on the basis of race. This study will attempt to uncover the roots of this disparity using quantitative and qualitative analyses. Ultimately, the team aims to help address these disparities by sharing their findings with relevant stakeholders.

Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia (ADRD) can be debilitating conditions. Palliative care, which aims to improve the quality of life for patients, is often crucial for individuals with ADRD.


Yet, like in so many other areas of healthcare, the data suggests significant disparities in access to such care on the basis of race: according to the 2019 Report Card on Access to Palliative Care, about 50% of whites with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia (ADRD) used palliative care before they died, while only 34% of African Americans and 37% of Hispanics did the same.


In this research project, faculty and graduate students will attempt to understand the roots of this disparity. The team will quantify racial and ethnic disparities in care among nursing home residents with moderate-to-severe ADRD, and will conduct and analyze interviews with healthcare providers at the largest hospice and palliative care provider in Massachusetts to gain their perspectives on this issue.


Ultimately, the team aims to help address these disparities by sharing their findings with relevant stakeholders. Involving graduate students in the research process, the team will provide mentored, hands-on experience in equity-inspired STEM research.