Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Jessica Toft


Social Work


Hospice is available to those who have been diagnosed with a terminal prognosis and have less than six months of life left. Although these benefits are available for much longer, most people are only utilizing hospice care during their very last days of life, less than 20 days. This short length of stay also does not allow the patient time to take full advantage of all the services that hospice has to offer. There seems to be barriers for individuals to receive a timely enrollment into hospice, whether it is the healthcare providers, the patients themselves, or their families. The purpose of this study was to take a look at ways doctors, nurses, and social workers promote or hinder access to hospice for their patients. If patients are eligible for hospice when they have less than six months to live, why are the majority waiting until the last few days or hours? The researcher utilized a mixed methods research design. An online survey through Qualtrics was available to doctors, nurses, and social workers. The final sample consisted of 14 doctors, nurses, and social workers. The researcher used computer software, Qualtrics, for descriptive data analysis. A qualitative content analysis was utilized to determine emerging patterns and themes gathered from the online survey. The findings indicated the same percentage of the respondents, agreed their professional education and training trained them to help patients understand their terminal diagnosis, yet they disagreed that their professional education and training prepared them to know when a hospice referral would be appropriate for those same patients. These findings also indicated that the majority of respondents still feel that the physician is responsible for making a referral to hospice. The social work profession needs to find a way to show the doctors and nurses that they are capable to assist with these patients and might even be a better choice to have these hard discussions with these patients and families as social workers are trained to work with these difficult issues.

Included in

Social Work Commons