Women May Choose Palliative Care More Often than Men

Men are reported to be less likely to receive palliative care, according to research led by Fahad Saeed, MD, from the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, and colleagues.

Men are reported to be less likely to receive palliative care, according to research led by Fahad Saeed, MD, from the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, and colleagues.

To understand this disparity, the researchers conducted a cross-sectional analysis of data collected from 383 patients upon study entry in the Values and Options in Cancer Care (VOICE) clinical trial. In the study, published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, patients were asked about their palliative care preferences—defined as “comfort care” with a focus on quality of life, but not a cure—in the event their oncologists informed them that further treatment would not be helpful.

Patients could respond saying definitely no, possibly no, unsure, possibly yes, and definitely yes. Patients preferring palliative care (definitely or possibly yes) were compared to all others.

The researchers found that women were more likely to prefer palliative care than men. The effect of education on palliative care preferences, which was also studied, was not statistically significant.

Although their study findings could not be generalized, the researchers concluded that gender differences in preferences for palliative care occurred in their study, and may account for gender disparities found in end-of-life care. Lastly, they recommended interventions be used to promote palliative care among men to help close this gender gap.