Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Social work with the terminally ill, Social workers-Religious life, Social work education, Cancer-Patients-Religious life, Social workers, Cancer patients, Terminally ill, Hospital, Non religious, Religious, Religiously affiliated, Religiously unaffiliatated, Health care


The purpose of this study was to explore how nonreligious social workers respond to religious terminally ill cancer patients within healthcare settings. There is limited research focused on the experience of the nonreligious social worker. Thus, a qualitative, exploratory study was chosen as an appropriate research design. This qualitative study used a flexible interview format comprised of semi-structured open- and closed-ended questions presented to 5 nonreligious oncology social workers in the United States. The findings demonstrate that most or all of the oncology social workers had similar experiences: with a supervisor or work agency addressing how to work with patients that have a religious affiliation; with patients talking about their God and the role of that God in their illness or prognosis; with patients making religious requests from the social worker; with patients questioning their faith with the social worker; with providing chaplaincy services to patients; and with searching for religion-specific services or items. In addition, some of the oncology social workers had similar experiences with being asked what religion they ascribe to.




iii, 37 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 30-32)