Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Fear of death, Terminal care-Psychological aspects, Hospice care-Psychological aspects, Caregivers-Psychology, Funeral consultants-Psychology, Death anxiety, Hospice, Funeral, Death attitudes


The purpose of this study was to determine whether increased exposure to death through professional experiences relates to an individual's anxiety and perceptions of death and dying. It was hypothesized that increased exposure to death and dying through providing Hospice and/or funeral services would correlate with lower death anxiety and more positive attitudes about end of life concerns. A quantitative measure, Thorson and Powell's Revised Death Anxiety Scale (RDAS), and qualitative open-response questions were distributed via an online survey program. 61 participants completed the online survey, 20 of whom had completed work in the fields of Hospice or funeral services, and 41 of whom had no experience in these arenas of professional experience. Statistical analysis revealed that those participants with experience in end of life care had significantly lower RDAS scores than those without experience in these fields. Further, older participants and those with a religious affiliation scored significantly lower in terms of death anxiety. This researcher suggests that clinical social work students should have increased death education and be encouraged to reflect on their own experiences and belief systems surrounding death and loss, as death and dying are inevitable subject matter in the field of clinical social work.




iii, 50 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 33-35)