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Equity and diversity in palliative care

Guest Editors:
Jonathan Koffman: Hull York Medical School, United Kingdom
Christian Schulz-Quach: Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Canada
Gilla K. Shapiro: Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Canada

BMC Palliative Care has published this Collection on health equity in palliative care. This Collection well supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), built on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, and specifically the SDG3 and SDG10, which have the ambitious aim of reducing disparities within and among countries and ensuring healthy lives for all at all ages.

Meet the Guest Editors

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Jonathan Koffman: Hull York Medical School, United Kingdom

Jonathan Koffman, BA (Hons), MSc, Ph.D., is a medical sociologist who has conducted studies examining the interface of social inequity and palliative care experiences and outcomes for over 20 years. Recent world events, including the Empire Windrush scandal, Black Lives Matter, and the Covid-19 pandemic, with their disproportionate impact on those from minoritized communities and those from low socioeconomic positions, have radically changed his views on the experience of those dying in the margins, questioning previous research on the manner in which study questions have been constructed, the methods chosen to address those question and the way findings have been reported.

Christian Schulz-Quach: Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Canada

Dr. Schulz-Quach, MD MSc MA MRCPSych, is a staff psychiatrist at the Department of Supportive Care, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada. He is a Clinician Educator and Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Dr. Schulz-Quach is a board-certified Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist with work experience in Germany, the UK, the US, and Canada. He has specialty training in Psychosomatic Medicine, Medical Psychotherapy, and Palliative Medicine. He is a candidate at the Toronto Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis and has a special interest in Existential Psychoanalysis.

Gilla K. Shapiro: Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Canada

Gilla Shapiro, MA (Cantab), MPP/MPA, Ph.D., is a Psychologist and Clinician-Scientist in the Department of Supportive Care at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. Gilla completed her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at McGill University and her dual-degree MPA/MPP at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Hertie School of Governance. Gilla has conducted research for the Hospital for Sick Children, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, the Global Public Policy institute, and the Social Science Research Center Berlin, among others.  The Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research have funded her research. Gilla’s clinical and research interests include psychosocial oncology, palliative care, health behavior, the social determinants of health, health equity, and policy analysis.

About the collection

BMC Palliative Care has published this Collection on health equity in palliative care. Palliative care, as defined for this collection, is a clinical and interprofessional discipline provided along a continuum of care that begins with early interventions, continuing with symptom-focused treatment, hospice, and end-of-life care, as well as bereavement and grief support. 
Health equity is recognized by the World Health Organization as an important component of social justice and is described as the absence of unfair or avoidable differences. Equity is recognized as a key component of palliative care and is
achieved when all can reach their fullest health potential through timely, appropriate, and high-quality care. Diversity considers what makes each person unique in their illness narrative regarding heritage, sociodemographic characteristics, and identity expression, including a thorough reflection of
intersectional identities.
Health disparities are the preventable results of structural discrimination and marginalization that impacts and perpetuates poor outcomes if left unaddressed.
When it comes to the delivery of high-quality palliative care, systematic and structural health disparities exist. While this is not a new phenomenon, the rise of social movements around the globe over the past decade and the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed societal
fissures and inequities that demand attention.
This collection on ‘Equity and Diversity in Palliative Care’ welcomed contributions from clinical research and original theoretical reflections relating to philosophical, ethical, and policy issues specific to this theme. 

Image credit: © Andrey Popov /

  1. Indigenous palliative persons and their families often have different values, spiritual traditions, and practices from Western culture and Canadian health systems. Additionally, many healthcare policies and pr...

    Authors: Russell Dawe, Jack Penashue, Mary Pia Benuen, Anastasia Qupee, Andrea Pike, Melanie van Soeren, Carolyn Sturge Sparkes, Mercy Winsor, Kristin Harris Walsh, Hiliary Hasan and Nathaniel Pollock
    Citation: BMC Palliative Care 2024 23:121
  2. Fewer than 1 in 20 people on the African continent in need of palliative care receive it. Malawi is a low-income country in sub-Saharan Africa that has yet to achieve advanced palliative care integration accom...

    Authors: Fatia Kiyange, Mackuline Atieno, Emmanuel B. K. Luyirika, Zipporah Ali, Helena Musau, Lameck Thambo, John Y. Rhee, Eve Namisango and William E. Rosa
    Citation: BMC Palliative Care 2024 23:17
  3. One measure of quality in palliative care involves ensuring people approaching the end of life are able to receive care, and ultimately die, in the places they choose. Canadian palliative care policy directive...

    Authors: Kelli I. Stajduhar, Melissa Giesbrecht, Ashley Mollison, Kara Whitlock, Piotr Burek, Fraser Black, Jill Gerke, Naheed Dosani and Simon Colgan
    Citation: BMC Palliative Care 2024 23:12
  4. Cancer disparities are a major public health concern in Canada, affecting racialized communities of Latin American and African descent, among others. This is evident in lower screening rates, lower access to c...

    Authors: Anna Santos Salas, Sharon M. Watanabe, Aynharan Sinnarajah, Nahyeni Bassah, Fleur Huang, Jill Turner, Jacqueline Alcalde Castro, Hannah M. O’Rourke, Pilar Camargo-Plazas, Bukola Salami, María Santana, Katy Campbell, Omar Abdel-Rahman, Tracy Wildeman, Lisa Vaughn, Harkeert Judge…
    Citation: BMC Palliative Care 2023 22:204
  5. There are persistent racial and ethnic health disparities in end-of-life health outcomes in the United States. African American patients are less likely than White patients to access palliative care, enroll in...

    Authors: Amn Siddiqi, Olivia Monton, Alison Woods, Taleaa Masroor, Shannon Fuller, Jill Owczarzak, Gayane Yenokyan, Lisa A. Cooper, Karen M. Freund, Thomas J. Smith, Jean S. Kutner, Kathryn L. Colborn, Robert Joyner, Ronit Elk and Fabian M. Johnston
    Citation: BMC Palliative Care 2023 22:139
  6. The diversity of the population is associated with different needs and expectations towards palliative and hospice care. Current approaches available in Germany generally fall short in addressing the role of d...

    Authors: Fabian Erdsiek, Yüce Yılmaz-Aslan and Patrick Brzoska
    Citation: BMC Palliative Care 2023 22:128
  7. Research studies demonstrate that palliative care can improve patient outcomes such as quality of life, symptom burden and patient satisfaction with care (Gomes B, et al. Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness o...

    Authors: Suparna Qanungo, Kathleen B. Cartmell, Martina Mueller, Melissa Butcher, Saswati Sarkar, Tyler-Gail Carlson, Mohan Madisetti and Gaurav Kumar
    Citation: BMC Palliative Care 2023 22:125
  8. Cultural factors, including religious or cultural beliefs, shape patients’ death and dying experiences, including palliative and end-of-life (EOL) care preferences. Allied health providers must understand thei...

    Authors: Hardeep Singh, Arta Taghavi Haghayegh, Riya Shah, Lovisa Cheung, Sachindri Wijekoon, Kevin Reel and Ruheena Sangrar
    Citation: BMC Palliative Care 2023 22:92

Submission Guidelines

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This Collection welcomes the submission of Research Articles. Should you wish to submit a different article type, please read our submission guidelines to confirm that type is accepted by the journal. Articles for this Collection should be submitted via our submission system, Snapp. During the submission process you will be asked whether you are submitting to a Collection, please select "Equity and Diversity in Palliative Care" from the dropdown menu.

Articles will undergo the journal’s standard peer-review process and are subject to all of the journal’s standard policies. Articles will be added to the Collection as they are published.

The Guest Editors have no competing interests with the submissions which they handle through the peer review process. The peer review of any submissions for which the Guest Editors have competing interests is handled by another Editorial Board Member who has no competing interests.