Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

McCaslin, Rosemary



Centered on interviews with 13 hospice care professionals from two large hospice organizations in Southern California, this thesis project examines the challenges that arise in hospice work. Hospice’s delivery of end-of-life care is becoming even more significant as the population lives longer. According to the National Institute on Aging (2014), the face of aging in the United States is changing dramatically. This examination discloses some of the challenges that hospice workers face in a continuously changing health care system, while trying to provide extraordinary service to the terminally ill.

Hospice regards dying as a conventional progression, and neither hastens nor defers death. Hospice health care professions are essential in providing care. This thesis uses a qualitative method and examined beliefs about hospice care among hospice professionals using compassion fatigue also known as burnout, job satisfaction and religion and spirituality as a foundation.

The findings of this thesis found that compassion fatigue is a real phenomenon and has been experienced by nine or 69% of participants, and of the 69%, six or 67% that experienced compassion fatigue are paid employees who work a forty hour work week. The remaining three participants or 33% who have experienced compassion fatigue are volunteers who commit to volunteering more than two days a week. Frequent contact with individuals who are terminally ill increases the likelihood of compassion fatigue. The


findings also indicate that 100% of participants experienced job satisfaction while working in patient care, despite the length of time working in the field of hospice. Job satisfaction is contributed to the belief that participants have regarding hospice care, and that belief is the work they do in hospice is a "calling" and they all consider working with the terminally ill as a privilege. Lastly, the findings indicate that religion and spirituality play a major role in how participants deal with the ongoing death of patients. Ninety two percent or 12 out of the 13 participants claim a belief in a higher power, and they use this belief to cope with the suffering and death of patients. They also use religion and spirituality as a way to decrease stress and to have a piece of mind that when a patient dies they are in a much better place and relieved of their suffering.

Taken as a whole, this study concentrated on hospice professionals and the correlation of compassion fatigue, job satisfaction and religion and spiritually which can have a pronounced impact on the overall quality of service delivery. The purpose of this study was to bring mindfulness to the hospice social professional. What has been provided in this study is empirical support for advanced research in the field of hospice care. Additional research is necessary in order to understand more about the beliefs of hospice care among helping professionals and the motivations they use in order to deliver optimal service to the terminally ill.