How to attract more males to community-based hospice palliative care volunteer programs

Stephen Claxton-Oldfield, Simone Guigne, Jane Claxton-Oldfield
American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care 2009, 26 (6): 439-48
Two separate studies were conducted to better understand why so few middle-aged and older men volunteer in hospice palliative care; only about 10% of the patient/family care volunteers in New Brunswick's community-based hospice palliative care volunteer programs are men. In study 1, 15 (22%) of the 68 men who read a brief description about the kinds of things that hospice palliative care volunteers do expressed an interest in this type of volunteerism. The main reasons given for their lack of interest included ''being too busy'' and ''not being able to handle it emotionally.'' At least one third of the men who said ''No'' to becoming a hospice palliative care volunteer expressed an interest in 10 of 13 other common volunteer activities (eg, driving). In study 2, 59 men were presented with a list of 25 tasks that hospice palliative care volunteers might perform when providing emotional, social, practical, and administrative support. The men were asked to indicate which tasks they would be willing to perform if they were a hospice palliative care volunteer. The men were least willing to serve on the board of directors (28%), provide hands on patient care (38%), and work in the volunteer program's office (42%); they were most willing to talk to the patient (97%), share hobbies and interests with the patient (92%), listen to the patient's memories and life stories (90%), and provide friendship and companionship (88%). The results of these studies may have implications for the recruitment of male volunteers to work with dying patients and their families.

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