Phenomenological Study of African American Women and Cultural Influences in End-of-Life Care Planning Decisions

Phenomenological Study of African American Women and Cultural Influences in End-of-Life Care Planning Decisions

Author: 
Jacqueline M. Ruple
Program of study: 
D.H.A.
Abstract: 
The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore whether cultural influence effects end-of-life care planning among African American women. The conclusion that resulted from this study proposed that understanding the lived experiences of cultural influence on African American women’s end-of-life care planning could lead to understanding among family members, friends, and medical professionals of the necessity for education development, specifically concerning the effect of cultural influence on end-of-life care plan communication. Throughout this qualitative phenomenological study, a modified van Kaam method of analysis by Moustakas (1994) implemented along with the use of NVivo software, researchers explored the lived experiences of six African American women living in the greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. The analytical synthesis of textural data revealed seven themes: (a) meaning of end-of-life planning to the participant; (b) lack of discussion concerning end-of-life care planning with medical professionals, (c) discussion with family members on end-of-life care planning, (d) lack of understanding of the meaning of end-of-life care planning, (e) shortcomings in relation to religious/spiritual practices which may impede end-of-life care planning, (f) difficulty and discomfort in regards to discussions about end-of-life planning, and (g) lack of end-of-life discussions with friends. This research study recommends that studying end-of-life care planning could potentially spark an increased commitment to communicating greater knowledge and understanding of end-of-life care planning to other cultures while also helping medical professionals to understand cultural influences in regards to communication with patients, family members and friends.
Dedication: 
Giving honor to my Heavenly Father, I dedicate this study to my children Jason, Joseph, and Danielle: thank you for still loving me. Thank you for the hugs and kisses. To my parents Jacqueline and Rev. Joseph Winsett, PhD, thank you for the cards, prayers, phone calls; for helping me with the children; and for believing in me. I love you more than you know. To my family and friends, thank you for your support. To my loved ones whom I lost along the way, they have completed this journey with me in my heart. Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. —Melody Beattie
Acknowledgements: 
I would like to acknowledge and send my heartfelt appreciation to my dissertation chair Dr. Fathiah Inserto and committee members Dr. Melissa V. Taylor and Dr. Darnell Anderson. Thank you for your support and guidance throughout this process. I also would like to thank the participants of this study and even those who dropped out; each person gave me strength to continue toward my goal.