March 31, 2005

A doctoral student at the University of North Texas Health Science Center discovered that Mexican-Americans knew little about advance directives, including living wills.

Carmen Santiago, a doctoral candidate in the School of Public Health at the health science center, defended her dissertation, â??Advance Directives Planning Among Mexican-Americans in Dallas-Fort Worth,â? just moments after Terri Schiavo died. Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman, received national attention this week when her parents and husband fought over the reinsertion of a feeding tube that has allowed Schiavo to live for the past 15 years.

Santiagoâ??s dissertation reviewed research on advance directives in the United States and studied of Mexican-Americans in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex to determine the level of knowledge; attitudes; and cultural, religious and family influences on decisions regarding advance directives and living wills.

Her study included two focus groups of people who she interviewed for two and one-half hours. One group consisted of elderly Mexican-Americans who had been hospitalized or participated in home-healthcare programs within the past year. The other group included family members or caregivers of elderly people who had been hospitalized or participated in home-healthcare in the past year.

Santiago discovered lack of knowledge and confusion in both groups regarding advance directives. Some participants thought that the term living will meant the distribution of property. Religiosity and education did have some bearing on the respondentsâ?? attitudes toward advance directives, according to the study, and the elderly participants were more likely to allow adult children to make decisions about extended life care.

â??Terri Schiavoâ??s case is a sad example of the difficulties families must go through when a loved one does not have a living will,â? Santiago said. â??During my practice as a provider of home health and hospice services, primarily among Hispanics, the experience of encountering similar situation, that is family membersâ?? disagreements regarding what is the will of the dying loved one, led me to do this study.â?

Santiago is founder and CEO of Cuidado Casero Home Health & Hospice.


Contact: Kay Colley 817-735-2553, cell 817-980-5090, e-mail

Hsc Tcom Gold Humanism Society Inductees Fc
TCOM Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society welcomes new inductees 

By Steven Bartolotta The humanistic side of medicine is alive and well at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. The TCOM Chapter of the Arnold P Gold Foundation inducted 45 students and four faculty members into the Gold Humanism Honor Society on the campus of The University of North Texas H...Read more

Jun 15, 2021

John Licciardone Hsc Fort Worth Fc
eHealth interventions could help African-American patients in battle with chronic pain

By Steven Bartolotta The PRECISION Pain Research Registry at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth has identified important racial disparities in pain management that became more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its study recently published in the special COVID...Read more

Jun 14, 2021

Diana Cervantes. Assistant Professor Biostatistics & Epidemiology
Dr. Diana Cervantes named among Fort Worth’s ‘most influential’ for public health service during the pandemic

By Sally Crocker Dr. Diana Cervantes has spent the last year keeping people informed and updated on all things coronavirus, and now she’s being recognized as one of Fort Worth Inc.’s “400 Most Influential People” for helping protect the community’s health during the pandemic. Dr....Read more

Jun 8, 2021

Opal Lee photo by Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Celebrating Juneteenth

By Diane Smith-Pinckney On June 19 1865, Major General Gordan Granger marched into Galveston with a critical message: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”  This was the opening se...Read more

Jun 8, 2021