Views of Hospice and Palliative Care Among Younger and Older Sexually Diverse Women

Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 80918, USA.
The American journal of hospice & palliative care (Impact Factor: 1.38). 12/2011; 29(6):455-61. DOI: 10.1177/1049909111429120
Source: PubMed


The aim of the present study was to explore end-of-life health care attitudes among younger and older sexually diverse women. Self-identified lesbian and heterosexual older women as well as lesbian and heterosexual middle-aged women were recruited. Results indicated that lesbian women held significantly more positive beliefs about hospice services and the role of alternative medicines in health care. No differences among sexual orientation were found for comfort discussing pain management but heterosexual women reported a significantly greater desire for life-sustaining treatments in the event of an incurable disease and severe life-limiting conditions (eg, feeding tube, life support, no brain response). Additionally, as expected, older women in this study held more positive beliefs about hospice and more comfort discussing pain management than middle-aged women.

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Available from: Daniel L Segal, Apr 09, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: There is a sizeable LGBT population for whom end of life care services are required. However, over and above the tremendous challenges that most people face at end of life, there are several significant additional obstacles that LGBT patients at end of life encounter, barriers that often prevent them from receiving appropriate end of life care. There remains a paucity of research that focuses specifically on understanding the needs, preferences, and perspectives of LGBT patients with life-limiting cancers or other terminal illnesses at end of life, and how their preferences and those of their partners and families of choice influence their end of life care decisions. This gap in turn limits our ability to design evidence-based LGBT-focused palliative care and end of life programs. Lack of sensitivity to, or respect for, cultural and social differences may compromise end of life care for LGBT patients and yet care is provided within a healthcare system where staff are often uncomfortable with, or even discriminate against, LGBT patients, their life partners, and families of choice. Despite significant recent legal changes in terms of visitation of a loved one in the hospital and acting as a proxy when an LGBT patient is no longer able to, legal and enforcement barriers remain; while heterosexual, married couples have the right to make medical decisions for a partner who is incapacitated, this is not automatically a right for LGBT couples. Implications for future research, program development and policy development and enforcement are discussed.
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