Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Barragan, Armando


Patients suffering from irreversible and terminal illnesses may benefit from the services provided by Palliative and Hospice Care to control any symptom burden and assist in navigating complex medical decisions. Many patients may express hesitation in accepting and enrolling to this service due to misconceptions. Language barriers may add an additional layer of complexity. This study explored the challenges Palliative Care providers encounter when introducing concept of hospice to Spanish-speaking patients their families for the first time. This study implemented qualitative research methods by using semi-structured one-on-one interviews. Ten members of an In-patient Palliative Care Team at a University Hospital were recruited as participants. Interviews were transcribed into a written form and coded into general themes. The study found that interpretation, use of written materials, misconceptions of the word hospice, religious factors and lack of cultural sensitivity training are some of the barriers identified. Additionally, the findings emphasized the need to increase the number of competent, bilingual providers of palliative care, increase of cultural sensitivity training, access to high-quality interpreters in delicate complex end-of-life conversations and the need to increase education and community outreach to Spanish-speaking communities. Further research should be conducted to solicit feedback on the barriers affecting access and utilization of palliative and hospice services by the patients and the families receiving the services to obtain a better understanding those barriers.