Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Social workers-Attitudes, Assisted suicide, Terminal care, Death, Terminally ill, Social worker, Physician-assisted suicide, End-of-life care, Dying, Terminal illness


This study was conducted with the hope of better understanding the factors that shape social workers' opinions about physician-assisted suicide (PAS). A survey was designed, based on past research, to explore the opinions of social workers regarding PAS depending on the social worker's age, gender, religion, years in the field, state in which they practice, and professional experience with those at the end of life. This study was conducted through an online quantitative survey developed by the authors using mostly questions from a variety of past studies. Fifty-five practicing social workers or social work students over the age of 18 responded. An analysis of the results indicated that social workers support the use of PAS in the majority of instances. However, support for PAS was significantly less in situations where their involvement would not be legal. Additionally, social workers agreed that education on PAS in social work school is limited. In regards to the role of demographic factors, social workers with more experience in the field and older social workers reported being more comfortable working with patients at the end of life. However, religion was not related to opinions. A factor analysis showed that the survey contained four major factors: rights, religion, law, and personal feelings. Due to a small sample size, we were unable to analyze the role of gender and state in which one practices. Implications for social work education, policy, and legislation are discussed. Furthermore, study limitations are explored, and recommendations are made for further research.




iii, 68 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 44-49)