Background: Fatigue is one of the most distressing symptoms in patients with advanced cancer. Previous studies have shown an association between low vitamin D levels and fatigue.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between vitamin D levels and self-assessed fatigue in cancer patients admitted to palliative care, with focus on possible sex differences.
Design: This is a cross-sectional study.
Subjects: Baseline data from 530 screened patients, 265 women and 265 men, from the randomized placebo-controlled trial “Palliative-D” were analyzed.
Measurements: Vitamin D status was measured as 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) and fatigue was assessed with EORTC-QLQ-PAL15 and with Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS).
Results: In men, there was a significant correlation between 25-OHD and fatigue measured with the “Tiredness question” (Q11) in EORTC-QLQ-PAL15 (p < 0.05), where higher 25-OHD levels were associated with less fatigue. No correlation between 25-OHD and fatigue was seen for women. Fatigue measured with ESAS did not show any significant association with 25-OHD levels neither in men nor in women.
Conclusion: Low vitamin D levels were associated with more fatigue in men but not in women. The study underscores the importance of subgroup analysis of men and women when evaluating the effect of vitamin D in clinical trials since the effect may differ between the sexes. The ongoing “Palliative-D study” will reveal whether vitamin D supplementation may counteract fatigue in both men and women.
In Japan, many adults prefer to die at home; however, few have their preferences actually come true. While discussions regarding place of death preferences (DPDPs) are important for older adults, they are poorly documented. Therefore, we investigated the factors associated with older Japanese men and women having DPDPs. We used cross-sectional survey data collected for the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES). We applied multivariable logistic regression analysis to calculate the odds ratio (ORs) of having DPDPs separately between men (n = 2,770) and women (n = 3,038) aged = 75 years. We considered 17 potential factors associated with having DPDPs, which were classified as either demographic, healthcare, family, or community factors. Among participants, 50.1% had DPDPs: 1,288 men (44.3%) and 1,619 women (55.7%). Older adults, DPDPs were associated with 5 additional factors; e.g. having a primary care physician (ORs = 1.47 [men] and 1.45 [women]), as were those who gave family and friends advice (ORs = 1.26 [men] and 1.62 [women]), and having people who listened to their concerns (ORs = 1.70 [men] and 1.81 [women]). Among men, DPDPs were associated with 3 additional factors; e.g. humorous conversations with their spouse (OR = 1.60). Among women, only one factor—reading newspapers (OR = 1.43) was associated with having DPDPs. Social networks with primary care physicians, family members, and friends may be important factors in promoting DPDPs. These gender-based differences in older adults relating to DPDPs should be considered when developing interventions to promote advance care planning that includes DPDPs.
Heart failure is a leading cause of readmissions in the United States, although treatment has come along away, palliative care is often not appropriately offered in advanced heart failure. The purpose of this study was to use a large database of national in-patient sample to find out the use of palliative care in acute heart failure admissions. Data from 2002 to 2017 was used for analysis. Simple linear regression was used for trend analysis over the years. Variables that were statistically significant in univariate analysis were used in single-step (entry method) multiple logistic analysis. The use of palliative care was found to be low at 4.1%, although recent trends have shown an increase (from 0.4% in 2002 to 6.2% in 2017). Women (0.3% in 2002 to 6.5% in 2017) and Caucasians (0.6% in 2002 to 6.9% in 2017) had a higher proportion of PC encounters as compared to men (0.5% in 2002 to 5.9% in 2017) and other racial minorities, increasing age (OR, 1.04[CI; 1.03-1.04], p < 0.01), female gender (OR, 1.03[CI; 1.02-1.03], p < 0.01), do not resuscitate status (OR, 10.62[CI; 10.53-10.70], p < 0.01), diabetes mellitus (OR, 1.10[CI; 1.01-1.11], p < 0.01), liver disease (OR, 1.63[CI; 1.60-1.66], p < 0.01), renal failure (OR, 1.40[CI; 1.39-1.41], p < 0.01), acute myocardial infarction (OR, 1.28[CI; 1.27-1.30], p < 0.01), and cardiogenic shock (OR, 2.89[CI; 2.84-2.93], p < 0.01) were associated with higher odds of having PC encounter. In conclusion, the use of palliative care has increased in the United States over the years, however, it is still low as compared to other high-income countries.
Background: Patients with advanced cancer commonly report depressive symptoms. Examinations of gender differences in depressive symptoms in patients with advanced cancer have yielded inconsistent findings.
Aim: The objective of this study was to investigate whether the severity and correlates of depressive symptoms differ by gender in patients with advanced cancer.
Design: Participants completed measures assessing sociodemographic and medical characteristics, disease burden, and psychosocial factors. Depressive symptoms were examined using the Patient Health Questionnaire, and other measures included physical functioning, symptom burden, general anxiety, death related distress, and dimensions of demoralization. A cross-sectional analysis examined the univariate and multivariate relationships between gender and depressive symptoms, while controlling for important covariates in multivariate analyses.
Setting/participants: Patients with advanced cancer (N = 305, 40% males and 60% females) were recruited for a psychotherapy trial from outpatient oncology clinics at a comprehensive cancer center in Canada.
Results: Severity of depressive symptoms was similar for males (M = 7.09, SD = 4.59) and females (M = 7.66, SD = 5.01), t(303) = 1.01, p = 0.314. Greater general anxiety and number of cancer symptoms were associated with depressive symptoms in both males and females. Feeling like a failure (ß = 0.192), less death anxiety (ß = –0.188), severity of cancer symptoms (ß = 0.166), and older age (ß = 0.161) were associated with depressive symptoms only in males, while disheartenment (ß = 0.216) and worse physical functioning (ß = 0.275), were associated with depressive symptoms only in females.
Conclusions: Males and females report similar levels of depressive symptoms but the pathways to depression may differ by gender. These differences suggest the potential for gender-based preventive and therapeutic interventions in this population.
Research suggests variation in how grief develops across time, and gender may account for some of this variation. However, gender differences in growth patterns of the newly codified ICD-11 prolonged grief disorder (PGD) are unknown. This study examined gender-specific variances in grief trajectories in a registry-sampled cohort of 857 spousal bereaved individuals (69.8% female). Participants completed self-report questionnaires of PGD symptoms at 2, 6, and 11 months post-loss. Using Growth Mixture Modeling, four PGD trajectories emerged: resilient characterized by low symptoms (64.4%), moderate-stable characterized by moderate symptoms (20.4%), recovery characterized by elevated symptoms showing a decrease over time (8.4%), and prolonged grief characterized by continuous elevated symptoms (6.8%). Similar proportions of men and women comprised the four trajectories. Gender influenced the parameter estimates of the prolonged grief trajectory as men evidenced more baseline symptoms (higher intercept) than women did and a decreasing symptom-level (negative slope), while women showed symptom-increase over time (positive slope). The prolonged grief trajectory captured the largest proportion of probable PGD cases in both genders. Low optimism and low mental health predicted membership in this class. Altogether, the absolute majority of both men and women followed a low-symptom resilient trajectory. While a comparable minority followed a high-symptom prolonged grief trajectory, men and women within this trajectory expressed varying symptom development. Men expressed prolonged grief as an acute, decreasing reaction, whereas women showed an adjourned, mounting grief reaction. This study suggests that gender may influence symptom development in highly distressed individuals across early bereavement.
Background: Palliative care improves quality of life in patients with heart failure. Whether men and women with heart failure derive similar benefit from palliative care interventions remains unknown.
Methods: In a secondary analysis of the PAL-HF trial (Palliative Care in Heart Failure), we analyzed differences in quality of life among men and women with heart failure and assessed for differential effects of the palliative care intervention by sex. Differences in clinical characteristics and quality-of-life metrics were compared between men and women at serial time points. The primary outcome was change in Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire score between baseline and 24 weeks.
Results: Among the 71 women and 79 men, there was a significant difference in baseline Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (24.5 versus 36.2, respectively; P=0.04) but not Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Palliative Care scale (115.7 versus 120.3; P=0.27) scores. Among those who received the palliative care intervention (33 women and 42 men), women’s quality-of-life score remained lower than that of men after enrollment. Treated men’s scores were significantly higher than those untreated (6-month Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire, 68.0 [interquartile range, 52.6–85.7] versus 41.1[interquartile range, 32.0–78.3]; P=0.047), whereas the difference between treated and untreated women was not significantly different (P=0.39). Rates of death and rehospitalization, as well as the composite end point, were similar between treated and untreated women and men.
Conclusions: In the PAL-HF trial, women with heart failure experienced a greater symptom burden and poorer quality of life as compared with men. The change in treated men’s Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire score between baseline and 24 weeks was significantly higher than those untreated; this trend was not observed in women. Thus, there may be a sex disparity in response to palliative care intervention, suggesting that sex-specific approaches to palliative care may be needed to improve outcomes.
Mexican Americans (MAs), 1 of 10 subgroups of Latinos, are the largest and fastest growing Latino subgroup in the United States; yet, their access to end-of-life (EOL) care using hospice services is low. An investigation was needed into extant research-based knowledge about factors influencing EOL care decisions among MAs to guide health-care professionals in assisting MAs to make timely, acceptable, and satisfactory EOL care decisions. To determine whether gender was an influence on EOL decision-making among older MAs, CINAHL and PubMed were searched for articles published between 1994 and 2018. Relevant sources were also identified through the reference lists of review articles. Reports were included if they were written in English, involved participants aged 50 years and older who identified themselves as MA, and data derived directly from participants. Reports in which MAs were not equally represented in the sample, large databases, and instrumentation development and testing articles were excluded. Of the 345 unduplicated articles identified in our electronic search and the 47 identified through review articles, 22 met the inclusion criteria. Content analysis was conducted using a priori codes from the Ethno-Cultural Gerontological Nursing Model (ECGNM). Only 8 (36%) of the 22 articles reported on MA older adults' gendered experiences related to EOL decision-making. Results indicate an association between gender and EOL decision-making. As the older MA population grows, tackling disparities in EOL services use requires attention to how culture and gender influence EOL decision-making and care.
OBJECTIVES: To map out the total use of long-term care (LTC; ie, home care or institutional care) during the last 2 years of life and to investigate to what extent gender differences in LTC use were explained by cohabitation status and age at death.
DESIGN: The National Cause of Death Register was used to identify decedents. Use of LTC was based on the Social Services Register (SSR) and sociodemographic factors were provided by Statistics Sweden.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: All persons living in Sweden who died in November 2015 aged =67 years (n = 5948).
METHODS: Zero inflated negative binomial regression was used to estimate the relative impact of age, gender, and cohabitation status on the use of LTC.
RESULTS: Women used LTC to a larger extent [odds ratio (OR) 2.17, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.92-2.50] and for a longer period [risk ratio (RR) 1.14, 95% CI 1.11-1.18] than men. When controlling for age at death and cohabitation status, gender differences in LTC attenuated (OR 1.47, 95% CI 1.28-1.72) and vanished in regard to the duration. In the controlled model, women used LTC for 15.6 months (95% CI 15.2-16.0) and men for 14.1 months (95% CI 13.7-14.5) out of 24 months. The length of stay in institutional care was 7.2 (95% CI 6.8-7.5) and 6.2 months (95% CI 5.8-6.6), respectively.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: A substantial part of women's greater use of LTC was due to their higher age at death and because they more often lived alone. Given that survival continues to increase, the association between older age at death and LTC use suggests that policy makers will have to deal with an increased pressure on the LTC sector. Yet, increased survival among men could imply that more women will have access to spousal caregivers, although very old couples may have limited capacity for extensive caregiving at the end of life.
Gender inequality in the form of gender-based violence manifests throughout the course of women's lives but has a particularly unique impact at end of life. We sampled 26 patients and 14 caregivers for this qualitative critical ethnographic study. The study purpose was to describe the lived experience of female palliative care patients in rural Malawi and their caregivers. The specific aims were to (i) analyse physical, spiritual and mental health needs and (ii) guide best healthcare practice. The study was informed by feminist epistemology, which drew us to an analysis focused on how gender inequality and gender-based violence affect the care of those with terminal illness. In this article, based on our findings, we demonstrate how gender inequality manifests through the intersecting gendered vulnerabilities of patients and their caregivers in rural Malawi. The findings specifically provide insight into the gendered nature of care work and how the gendered life trajectories of both patients and caregivers intersect to impact the health and well-being of both groups. Our findings have implications on how palliative care can be scaled up in rural Malawi in support of women who are experiencing intimate partner violence at end of life, and the caregivers responsible for their well-being.
Purpose: Patients with advanced cancer often receive suboptimal end-of-life (EOL) care. Particularly males with advanced cancer are more likely to receive EOL care that is more aggressive, even if death is imminent. Critical factors determining EOL care are EOL conversations or advance care planning. However, information about gender-related factors influencing EOL conversations is lacking. Therefore, the current study investigates gender differences concerning the content, the desired time point, and the mode of initiation of EOL conversations in cancer patients.
Methods: In a cross-sectional study, 186 female and male cancer patients were asked about their preferences for EOL discussions using a semi-structured interview, focusing on (a) the importance of six different topics (medical and nursing care, organizational, emotional, social, and spiritual/religious aspects), (b) the desired time point, and (c) the mode of discussion initiation.
Results: The importance of EOL topics differs significantly regarding issue (p = 0.002, 2 = 0.02) and gender (p < 0.001, 2 = 0.11). Males wish to avoid the engagement in discussions about death and dying particularly if they are anxious about their end-of-life period. They wish to be addressed regarding the “hard facts” nursing and medical care only. In contrast, females prefer to speak more about “soft facts” and to be addressed about each EOL topic. Independent of gender, the majority of patients prefer to talk rather late: when the disease is getting worse (58%), at the end of their therapy, or when loosing self-sufficiency (27.5%).
Conclusion: The tendency of patients to talk late about EOL issues increases the risk of delayed or missed EOL conversations, which may be due to a knowledge gap regarding the possibility of disease-associated incapability. Furthermore, there are significant gender differences influencing the access to EOL conversations. Therefore, for daily clinical routine, we suggest an early two-step, gender-sensitive approach to end-of-life conversations.
Most caregiving literature has focused on women, who have traditionally taken on caregiving roles. However, more research is needed to clarify the mixed evidence regarding the impact of gender on caregiver/patient psychological outcomes, especially in an advanced cancer context. In this paper, we examine gender differences in caregiver stress, burden, anxiety, depression, and coping styles, as well as how caregiver gender impacts patient outcomes in the context of advanced cancer. Eighty-eight patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers completed psychosocial surveys. All couples were heterosexual and most caregivers were women (71.6%). Female caregivers reported significantly higher levels of perceived stress, depression, anxiety, and social strain compared with male caregivers, and female patients of male caregivers were more likely to use social support as a coping style compared with male patients of female caregivers. These findings highlight the potential differences between male and female caregivers' needs and psychological health.
BACKGROUND: Although national organizations advocate that health-care providers ask patients about sexual health and sexual and gender minority status-to learn, for example, about side effects of treatment and to understand patients' social support-these conversations often do not occur. This study explored health-care providers' reasons for having/not having these conversations.
METHODS: This single-institution study recruited health-care providers from medical oncology, hematology, radiation oncology, and gynecology. Face-to-face interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed qualitatively.
RESULTS: Three main themes emerged: (1) patient-centric reasons for discussing/not discussing sexual health and sexual and gender minority status ("So I think just the holistic viewpoint is important"); (2) health-care provider-centric reasons for discussing/not discussing these issues ("That's going to take more time to talk about and to deal with…" or "I was raised orthodox, so this is not something we talk about…"; and (3) reasons that appeared to straddle both of the above themes (eg, acknowledgment of the sometimes taboo nature of these topics).
CONCLUSION: Although many health-care providers favor talking with patients with cancer about sexual health and sexual and gender minority status, limited time, personal reluctance, and the taboo nature of these topics appear at times to hamper the initiation of these conversations.
The debate about euthanasia continues worldwide, with nurses’ attitudes becoming increasingly more important. The aim of this study is to investigate gender differences among nurses’ perceptions of attitudes toward euthanasia. A nonprobability quantitative, cross-sectional design was carried out among nurses working at a tertiary care center. Data were collected through self-reported questionnaires at their work place. Significant differences were found between men and women to the items such as “Fear of death shows differences due to religious beliefs” ( 2 = 10.550, p < 0.05), “If patient wants euthanasia, nutrition support should be stopped” ( 2 = 12.209, p < 0.05), “CPR should not be applied in case of sudden respiration and heart stop” ( 2 = 9.591, p < 0.05), and “burden for relatives to take care of a patient who is in terminal period and who will die” ( 2 = 9.069, p < 0.05). The present study depicts that gender plays an important role in euthanasia; hence, the researchers strongly suggest that there is an urgent need to draft uniform guidelines after wide consultation with all the stake holders regarding nurses’ role in taking care of patients who request euthanasia, to face these situations effectively and competently within professional boundaries.
BACKGROUND: Half of nursing home residents (NHR) suffer from dementia. End-of-life hospitalizations are often burdensome in residents with dementia. A systematic review was conducted to study the occurrence of hospitalizations at the end of life in NHR with dementia and to compare these figures to NHR without dementia.
METHODS: A systematic literature search in MEDLINE, CINAHL and Scopus was conducted in May 2018. Studies were included if they reported proportions of in-hospital deaths or hospitalizations of NHR with dementia in the last month of life. Two authors independently selected studies, extracted data, and assessed quality of studies.
RESULTS: Nine hundred forty-five citations were retrieved; 13 studies were included. Overall, 7 studies reported data on in-hospital death with proportions ranging between 0% in Canada and 53.3% in the UK. Studies reporting on the last 30 days of life (n = 8) varied between 8.0% in the Netherlands and 51.3% in Germany. Two studies each assessed the influence of age and sex. There seem to be fewer end-of-life hospitalizations in older age groups. The influence of sex is inconclusive. All but one study found that at the end of life residents with dementia were hospitalized less often than those without (n = 6).
CONCLUSIONS: We found large variations in end-of-life hospitalizations of NHR with dementia, probably being explained by differences between countries. The influence of sex and age might differ when compared to residents without dementia. More studies should compare NHR with dementia to those without and assess the influence of sex and age.
This meta-analysis synthesizes the results of 14 independent studies conducted in the U.S. (N = 6979 participants) that examined sex differences in internalized, externalized, and PTSD symptoms associated with grief during adolescence. The mean age of participants was 12.22 years (SD = 2.31) with 50% male and 50% female sex assigned at birth. While no mean-level differences were found between adolescent females and males in externalizing behaviors associated with grief (d = 0.03), on average, females reported higher levels of internalized grief responses (d = 0.18) and higher levels of PTSD symptoms (d = 0.36) than their male counterparts. Findings suggest the need for additional, more nuanced research to investigate possible sex differences in externalized behaviors relating to grief. In addition, research should examine whether tailored therapeutic and intervention measures and resources are needed for adolescents experiencing internalized grief and PTSD symptoms given sex differences in these reactions.
Research on marital status-gender differences in later-life trajectories of cognitive functioning is scarce. Drawing on seven waves of data from the Hispanic Established Population for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly, this research uses growth curve models to examine later-life dynamics of cognitive functioning among married and widowed older men and women of Mexican descent (aged 65+; N = 3329). The findings demonstrate that the widowed, regardless of gender, had lower initial levels of cognition but a less steep cognitive decline across waves, compared to married men. Age and socioeconomic resources accounted for these marital status differences in levels and rates of change in cognitive functioning completely among widowed men and partially among widowed women. Moreover, net of all the factors, married women had a slower cognitive decline than married men. This study also shows that health and social integration might shape cognitive functioning among older adults of Mexican descent.
BACKGROUND: Gender disparities of specific symptoms and problems have frequently been observed in palliative care patients, but research rarely focused on the range of problems and needs affected by gender.
METHODS: We conducted semi-structured interviews with patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) of a hospital-based palliative care unit to examine gender effects on patients' problems and needs based on systematically gathered qualitative data. Content analysis was used to identify emerging themes with data coded using MAXQDA.
RESULTS: Ten patients (5 female, 5 male) and 17 HCPs (12 female, 5 male) were interviewed. Seven categories of gender-specific problems and needs emerged: "physical symptoms, care and body image", "psychological symptoms and emotional response", "interaction with the palliative care team", "use of professional supportive measures", "activation of informal social networks", "decision-making", and "preservation of autonomy and identity". Both patients and HCPs felt that female patients adopt more expressive coping strategies, have stronger need for communication with and support of HCPs, and activate an extended social network for support and decision-making. Further, both groups thought that male patients mainly rely on social support from partners, have higher expectations to be cared for at home, and have higher need for preservation of autonomy.
CONCLUSION: Gender relevantly impacts patients' problems and needs during palliative care. Therefore, gender-sensitive palliative care that acknowledges the patient's individual situation and respective ramifications are required.
This study examined gender differences in mental health of bereaved parents related to the gender of deceased only child in China, an only-child society with traditional culture of son preference, using data drawn from the China Family Planning Survey on Vulnerable Households in 2017. The findings indicated that parents with deceased only child suffered from more negative mental health symptoms than nonbereaved parents. For only-child-death families, there were no statistically significant gender differences in mental health of parents, and the gender of the deceased only child was basically unrelated to maternal/paternal mental health. Due to the implementation of one-child policy in China, both sons and daughters are highly prized and equally relied on by aging parents owing to the irreplaceability of the only child, which might moderate the effects of traditional culture of son preference on bereaved parental mental health.
This study was conducted to determine the relationship between various attitudes and hope levels of cancer patients. The study was conducted in an observational and cross-sectional design with 106 cancer patients who were followed in the oncology clinic of a hospital. In the study, it was found that women had lower hope levels than men, and as age decreased, hope levels increased and as educational level increased, hope levels increased. It was found that the patients who said “I have fear/worry/anxiety and think about my family as they will be left behind” had lower total scores and subscale scores of hope. The results of the study showed that individuals with cancer had relatively higher hope levels. It was determined that the patients’ thoughts about death affected their hope both directly and indirectly.
Objective: This study aimed to explore the gender differences in wishes and feelings regarding end-of-life care among Japanese elderly people requiring home care services.
Patient/Materials and Methods: This study was a secondary analysis of the qualitative data previously compiled from a total of 102 elderly people living at home. The data was retrospectively collected from the participants' nursing records, which included a designated advance care planning (ACP) form completed between January and July 2015. Out of the 102 participants, 86 men and women who were either living alone or with a spouse were selected for the present analysis. We reviewed the participants' ACP forms based on which of the sentiments on the following checklist were expressed: anxiety about the future, abandonment of control, clinging to current daily life, inadequate support from spouse, and a tendency to delegate decision-making.
Results: The most commonly expressed feeling was abandonment of control, among both men and women. Among elderly people living alone, women were more likely to want to be surrounded by good, caring people when approaching the end of their lives. Among elderly people living with a spouse, women were more likely to want to delegate decision-making to others.
Conclusion: Our results pointed to a gender difference in the attitudes of elderly people toward interactions with the people surrounding them during the end-of-life decision-making process. In order to provide better overall care, health care professionals must come to realize the importance of this gender difference, as it has an impact on the ACP choices made by elderly people living in the community.