Fostering End‑of‑Life Conversations, Community and Care among LGBT Older Adults

Principal Investigators: Brian de Vries, PhD, and Gloria Gutman, PhD, Simon Fraser University
Local Investigators:
Áine Humble, PhD, Mount Saint Vincent University and Jacqueline Gahagan, PhD, Dalhousie University
Janet Fast, PhD, University of Alberta, Steven Mock, PhD, University of Waterloo, Line Chamberland, PhD, University of Quebec at Montreal
Local Research Assistants:
Sarah Paterson, BA, and Kirk Furlotte, BSc

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults face significant challenges in preparing for later life and end-of-life. They are more likely to age alone, with limited support, and in a stigmatizing environment where they are often poorly served by traditional social services and hesitant to avail themselves of the same.  

This research project aimed to address these disparities by gaining a better understanding of the needs of older LGBT adults in five regions of Canada (Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and West Coast). Focus groups were held with gay and bisexual men, lesbian and bisexual women, transgender individuals and service providers. These focus discussions were followed up by a community town hall meeting to report back to the community and raise awareness of the issue.

Reports and resources stemming from this national project can be found at You can also view and download the Nova Scotia LGBT End-of-Life Resource Inventory that was compiled as part of this research. As well, you can view the presentation we gave at Northwood's 2015 Research Day with an overview of our research, including major themes.

About our team in Nova Scotia...

Áine Humble, PhD, Co-Investigator

Dr. Áine Humble is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Studies and Gerontology at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She completed her PhD in 2003 in Human Development and Family Studies, with a minor in Women Studies, at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Her main research interests focus on family rituals, family work, and gender construction. She also conducts research on women and healthy aging, same-sex families, qualitative research methods, and qualitative data analysis software. Dr. Humble’s work is published in journals such as the Canadian Journal on Aging, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, Journal of Family Issues, Journal of Family Theory and Review, and Journal of Women and Aging. She has been facilitating training workshops on MAXQDA software for qualitative data analysis since 2009 through her consulting company, Fada Research Consulting. She is always trying to find time to incorporate more yoga into her schedule.

Jacqueline Gahagan, PhD, Co-Investigator

Jacqueline Gahagan, PhD (Medical Sociology) is a Full Professor (Health Promotion) and Head of the Health Promotion Division at Dalhousie University. Jacqueline is also the Director of the Gender and Health Promotion Studies Unit (GAHPS Unit), and holds research associate positions with the European Union Centre for Excellence, the Health Law Institute at Dalhousie University, Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, and the Atlantic Health Promotion Research Centre. Jacqueline has been involved in HIV/AIDS advocacy, activism and research for over two decades and was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition her work in the field. Professor Gahagan’s program of funded health promotion research focuses on mixed methods approaches to addressing health disparities among gender and sexual minoritized populations, including an exploration of the breast and gynecological cancer experiences of LBQ women and trans people, promoting resilience among LGBTQ youth, gender- and equity-based analyses of HIV and Hepatitis C prevention policies and programs for youth, end of life conversations among older LGBTQ populations, and access to and uptake of testing innovations such as point-of-care HIV testing.

Kirk Furlotte, BSc, Research Assistant

Kirk is a graduate student at Dalhousie University working on his Master of Arts in Health Promotion under the supervision of Dr. Jacqueline Gahagan. He has worked on a number of LGBTQ health research projects over the last several years, including our study on end-of-life preparation. Kirk has been active in a number of LGBTQ organizations in Halifax several boards and community projects. He is a long-time advocate for sexual orientation and gender identity rights with the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, a provincial advocacy and educational organization. Kirk’s thesis research explores the barriers and facilitators that gay and bisexual men face in accessing healthcare systems.

Sarah Paterson, BA, Research Assistant

Sarah Paterson is a research assistant on the TVN funded project 'Fostering End-of-Life Conversations, Community and Care among LGBT Older Adults' in the Halifax region. Her research interests include diversity among the aging population including individuals identifying with the LGBT community and older adults living with chronic illness. She is currently completing her Masters of Arts in the Family Studies and Gerontology Department at Mount Saint Vincent University and has a background in Health Studies from McMaster University.

This research is funded by TVN (Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network), which is supported by the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program, for $100,000 (2014-2015).