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Publication Date


Document Type



School for Social Work


Assisted suicide, Hospice care, Palliative treatment, Terminal care, Right to die, Social work with the terminally ill, Social workers-Attitudes


An online confidential and anonymous survey of California's hospice social workers' attitudes, beliefs, knowledge about and professional experiences with physician assisted suicide (PAS) and other means of hastening death was distributed and returned between March 14, 2010 and September 27, 2011. All Medicare certified hospices in California were asked to distribute this 43 item survey to all social work providers in their programs. 177 surveys were completed; 22 lacking critical responses were excluded. The remaining 155 revealed minimal knowledge of Oregon's Death with Dignity program. Social workers generally support assisted suicide (55.5%) or are neutral (23.2%). Respondents' current self-identification as (1) Catholic, (2) frequently attending church and (3) being conservative toward social policy each independently predicted increased opposition to PAS. Patients, then care givers are most likely to initiate discussions with social workers about legal and illegal death-hastening options. Respondents estimated the rate of PAS in California currently.




viii, 257 p. Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 204-228)