Wurzweiler’s Gary Stein Leads Study Investigating LGBT Patient Experiences

Research Will Assess Quality of Hospice and Palliative Care Among LGBT Community, Provide Much-Needed Data

Gary Stein, Wurzweiler School of Social Work

Gary Stein, professor at Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University, and Dr. Cathy Berkman, associate professor of social work at Fordham University, are leading a research team embarking on a major project to assess the quality of hospice and palliative care programs for LGBT older adults, thanks to a generous grant from the Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging. In addition to Stein, the project’s principal investigator, and Berkman, the research team includes leaders from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging.

This fall, Stein and Berkman will disseminate surveys they have designed to hospice and palliative care providers as well as attorneys working on eldercare issues. The collected data will be analyzed over the winter to create a comprehensive overview of the quality, availability and efficacy of the care available to this traditionally stigmatized population. They then plan on disseminating the results of their study at a practice and policy roundtable in Washington, DC (tentatively scheduled for early 2019), by publication in peer-reviewed journals and at palliative care and aging conferences.

The project’s findings will provide much-needed guidance in how to create policies and practices that will, according to Stein, “advance medically appropriate, culturally proficient and respectful palliative and end-of-life care for the millions of LGBT individuals in the United States [and] inform institutional and public policy in a growing and evolving health sector.”

Stein, who has been active in the hospice and palliative care world for more than a decade, is interested in doing this research as part of his concern about access to respectful, non-discriminatory and quality services for LGBT older adults.

“This is very exciting to us, gathering first-ever collected data on the experiences of LGBT patients and families in palliative care programs,” Stein noted. “Palliative care associations have expressed much interest in learning about the experiences of the LGBT community in receiving services. Many in the hospice and palliative care community are very committed to diversity and to being culturally inclusive and as accepting as possible.”

“I am excited to work on this study,” said Berkman, “which will be one of the first to investigate inadequate or discriminatory palliative care for LGBT persons. We will use the study findings to make policy recommendations that we hope will improve palliative care for the LGBT community.”

“The information that this project will gather will give us the insights we must have into the care and treatment of this fragile population if we are going to serve them with a better understanding of their needs,” said Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler. “The collaborative nature of the project also demonstrates the power to do good that the healing professions can have when they use their combined expertise to improve the social, emotional and physical condition of vulnerable people in our society.”