Saturday, September 5, 2009

Where Are All the Men (Hospice-Palliative Volunteers)?

When hospice-palliative volunteers look around the room during a typical meeting, it becomes obvious that women volunteer at a higher rate. This is not to say there aren’t great male volunteers, but more diversity in this area would be beneficial. Volunteers are motivated for various reasons such as serving and socializing with patients, pursuing career goals, and feeling good about themselves. But, if the rewards are so wonderful, why aren't more men joining? Fortunately, research reported in the “American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine®” sheds light on this phenomenon with an emphasis on middle-aged and older men:

1) After 68 men read a brief description of the kinds of activities that hospice-palliative care volunteers do, 20% expressed an interest in this type of volunteerism. Those who were not interested stated such reasons as "being too busy" and "not being able to handle it emotionally." One third of the men who said they were not interested in becoming volunteers did express an interest in 10 of 13 other common volunteer activities such as driving.

2) After 59 men were presented with a list of 25 volunteer tasks from which they could choose, 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%).

Men were most willing to talk to patients (97%), share hobbies and interests with patients (92%), listen to patients’ memories and life stories (90%), and provide friendship and companionship (88%).

These are the facts straight from men themselves. Hopefully, this information makes preferences of many potential male volunteers clearer. Volunteer coordinators can consider these male motivations as part of their recruitment strategies leading to more diversity.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
“Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog”


  1. Thank you for creating this blog. looking forward to reading your book.

    Peace and all good things,

  2. Thanks, Lisa. Be love(d).