Gender Differences in Caregiving at End of Life: Implications for Hospice Teams

Karla T. Washington, Kenneth C. Pike, George Demiris, Debra Parker Oliver, David L. Albright, Alexandria M. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Researchers have identified important gender differences in the experience of caring for a family member or friend living with advanced disease; however, trends suggest that these differences may be diminishing over time in response to changing gender roles. In addition, while many studies have found caregiving experiences and outcomes to be poorer among female caregivers, noteworthy exceptions exist. Objective: The primary aim of this exploratory study was to determine how, if at all, current day caregiving at end of life varies by gender. Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of data from a multisite randomized controlled trial of a family caregiving intervention performed between 2010 and 2014. We compared female and male hospice family caregivers on baseline variables using χ2 tests for association of categorical variables and t-tests for continuous variables. Our sample included 289 family caregivers of individuals receiving services from one of two hospice agencies located in the northwestern United States. Demographic data and other categorical variables of interest were provided via caregiver self-report using an instrument created specifically for this study. Reaction to caregiving and caregiving burden were measured using the Caregiver Reaction Assessment (CRA). Results: As it related to caregiving, females had significantly lower self-esteem and more negative impact on their schedule, health, and family support than males. No gender differences were detected with regard to the impact of caregiving on individuals' finances. Conclusions: Despite changing social expectations, pronounced gender differences persist in caregiving at the end of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1048-1053
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2015


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