Participants sought for focus groups to improve end-of-life care

End-of-life care: there’s only one chance to get it right, for patient and for caregiver.mBut “right” means different things to different cultures, and a new study aims to define and address the differences.

As part of the study, researchers at the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina will first identify the kind of care that’s most helpful to and appreciated by two populations—African-Americans and Caucasians—and then work to make it available to seriously ill patients in rural communities with limited medical access.

Beaufort Memorial Hospital has been selected to participate in the palliative care study, which is the first of its kind.  The hospital is now seeking area residents to share their experiences as end-of-life caregivers in two-session focus groups to be held in September.

Focus group participants must be African-American or Caucasian and have cared for a family member or other loved one 60 or older who died within the last year.  The caregiving must have taken place in the Lowcountry. Participants will receive a $20 Walmart gift card and a $15 gas card for each focus group session they attend.

Palliative care focuses on preventing and relieving the suffering of patients in all disease stages, including those undergoing treatment for curable diseases, those living with chronic diseases and those nearing the end of their life.

Although it has been shown to reduce patients’ symptoms, alleviate pain and reduce hospital costs, palliative care is not available in many geographic areas of the country, especially in rural sections of the southern United States.

“We’re excited to be on the forefront of a new study that has the potential to improve care not only for residents of our own rural communities, but also for patients all over the country facing life-threatening illnesses,” said Beaufort Memorial Cancer Program Director Connie Duke. “We will be serving as the test case for implementation of the program.”

Focus groups will be held at USCB, Beaufort College Building, 801 Carteret Street.

Group A will meet Tuesday, Sept. 17, 5:30-7:45 p.m., and Tuesday, Sept. 24, 6-7:45 p.m. Group B will meet Thursday, Sept. 19, 5:30-7:45 p.m., and Thursday, Sept. 26, 6-7:45 p.m. Sandwiches, snacks and beverages will be served.

To participate in the focus groups or for more information, contact Cindy Coburn-Smith, 843-522-5835 or ccoburns@bmhsc.org, Beaufort Memorial Hospital Community Health Improvement. Contact deadline is Sept. 15.

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