Apoyo con Cariño (Support through Caring): Improving Palliative Care Outcomes for Latinos with Advanced Medical Illness

Specialty Palliative Care has been demonstrated to lower costs in seriously ill populations. Researchers from the University of Colorado – Denver, School of Medicine, were inspired to test whether interventions could help improve quality of life and lower health care costs. Their Apoyo con Cariño (support through caring) study set out to improve palliative care, specifically for Latinos with advanced medical illnesses. The initial study enrolled 240 Latino adults with serious medical illnesses.


Control Group
Intervention Group

The control group consisted of individuals who received translated educational materials (English to Spanish) on their related illnesses and best practices for treatment. The intervention group received the same educational materials, along with five, culturally tailored, patient navigator visits. For this study, patient navigators were defined as laypeople from the community who worked with patients and families to reduce barriers to care. The researchers hoped to better understand whether patient interventions could help reduce hospital admissions, visits to the emergency department, and costs.

Initial results from the analysis indicated that, although patients valued the navigators and there was improvement in Advanced Care Planning across the intervention group, there was no effect on pain management and use of hospice care. Further research is needed to better understand the possible effects and scope of the patient navigator on a national scale.

Accessing CO APCD Data

To better understand their long-term outcomes the researchers needed to dive further into the data. In 2018, the project was awarded assistance through the CO APCD Scholarship Fund to help their request for an identified dataset for the claims data of their selected study participants. They would then go on to evaluate key palliative care processes and patient outcomes: quality of life, advance care planning, pain and other symptoms, caregiver burden, hospice utilization, health care utilization at the end of life, and cost.

While the researchers are still working to complete their cost analysis, they have found that when patients

enroll in hospice care, patient navigators can save the system money and help improve outcomes. Once published, this valuable work will hopefully serve as a stepping stone to achieving lower costs and better outcomes in the health care system.

Learn more about the CO APCD

View the Initial Research

View the CO APCD Scholarship Webinar