There has been a systematic and largely unconscious neglect of gender in palliative care research, practice and policy. This is despite significant, although previously uncollated, evidence that gender influences almost all aspects of end-of-life preferences, experiences and care. The social situations of women, transgender people and men often differ from one another while also intersecting in complex ways with sex differences rooted in biology. If palliative care is to meet its aspiration of providing universal benefit, it urgently needs to address a range of gender inequalities currently (re)produced at the level of the laboratory all the way through to government departments. In this call to arms, we spotlight specific instances where gender inequalities have been documented, for example, regarding end-of-life caregiving, end-of-life intervention and palliative care access and benefit. We highlight how gender inequalities intersect with other social determinants of health including ethnicity and economic status to exacerbate situations of marginality. We conclude by offering some practical steps that can be taken to support the discipline to adopt a more critical gender lens to support more equitable research, policy and practice.
Keywords: end-of-life; gender; gender bias; inequalities; inequity; intersectionality; palliative care; social determinants of health.
© The Author(s), 2020.