Living and dying in a disparate health care system: Rationale and strategies for cultural humility in palliative and hospice care physical therapy

Christopher Barnes, Karen Mueller, Lubayna Fawcett, Barbara Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Background: Disparities in diversity, equity and inclusivity are endemic in American society, and in the United States (US) healthcare system. As US population diversity increases, physical therapists (PTs) must be able to provide equitable care for all people, regardless of their cultural or personal identity. Culturally-humble Hospice and palliative Care (HPC) PT practice, with vigilant awareness of cultural complexities and commitment to approaching cultural understanding with humility, is essential to provide optimal end of life care for all persons. Purpose: This Perspective paper will 1) provide an overview of the role of PT in HPC, 2) describe culturally-related disparities in HPC, and 3) suggest evidence-based strategies for cultural humility in HPC PT best practice. Specific challenges in the delivery of culturally-humble end of life care will be discussed, including advanced care planning, truth telling, and death beliefs/practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
JournalRehabilitation Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020



  • cross-cultural care
  • hospice care
  • palliative care
  • physical therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)

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