Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Lizano, Erica


Effective June 9, 2016, many terminally ill patients residing in the State of California will now have the legal option of terminating their life because of protections offered under The California End of Life Options Act. Social workers whose population of care includes terminally ill patients will likely be engaging in conversations about end of life options, including physician assisted death, with their patients. Little research exists addressing what factors may influence social workers perceived preparedness to discuss physician assisted death with patients, yet the expectation that social workers be prepared to discuss all available end of life options with patients is present. The purpose of this quantitative study is to explore the influence of demographic characteristics and experience with terminal illness on California social workers perceived preparedness to discuss physician assisted death as an end of life option with terminally ill patients. Convenience sampling was utilized which included sixty-two Master of Social Work level or higher social workers who are employed in medical social work positions and are providing direct care for chronically and terminally ill patients. Participants completed a voluntary paper survey that gathered demographic information, experience with terminal illness and perceived preparedness to discuss physician assisted death with patients through Likert Scale measures. The findings showed a positive relationship between California social workers who perceived themselves as prepared to discuss physician assisted death and the identification of their social work education as a source of their preparedness.