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living and dying with cardiovascular disease in Aotearoa New Zealand

Mason, Kathleen; Toohey, Frances; Gott, Merryn; Moeke-Maxwell, Tess

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: March 2019 - Volume 13 - Issue 1 - p 3–8
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000404

Purpose of review This article provides an informed perspective on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and palliative care need among Māori New Zealanders. High Māori CVD risk factors will contribute to a sharp increase in older Māori deaths which has implications for health and palliative care service provision.

Recent findings CVD is New Zealand's leading cause of premature deaths and disability among Māori. A projected rise in older Māori deaths within the next 30 years will require increased palliative care. However, accessing palliative care and obtaining and understanding information can be challenging for families who are already often overburdened with high social and economic disadvantages. Meeting the high financial costs associated with end-of-life care make living with CVD challenging. Engaging with the health system's biomedical approach when holistic care is preferable can be a major barrier.

Summary Māori families provide the bulk of care at end-of-life, but they can become fatigued with the challenges that accompany long-term progressive illnesses, such as CVD. They are also burdened by the financial costs associated with end-of-life. It is often difficult for Māori to access palliative care and to obtain and understand information about the illness and treatment. Navigating an unfamiliar and complex health system, low health literacy among Māori and poor relationship building and communication skills of health professionals are significant barriers. Cultural safety training would help to increase health and cardiovascular professionals’ cultural understanding of Māori and their holistic end-of-life preferences; this could go some way to strengthen rapport building and communication skills necessary for effective engagement and informational exchanges. Increasing the Māori palliative care workforce and introducing cultural safety training among health professionals could help to bridge the gap. A current study to gather traditional care customs and present these to whānau and the health and palliative care sectors in the form of an online resource could contribute to this decolonizing objective.

School of Nursing, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Correspondence to Kathleen Mason, School of Nursing, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand. E-mail:

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