Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Chang, Janet


Currently in the United States, five states have enacted physician-assisted suicide as a legal end of life option for terminal patients. Research indicates that most patients who have died under this mean have been enrolled in hospice services. With the recent enactment of California’s End of Life Option Act, hospice social workers will find themselves educating and assisting patients and/or their families with this and other end of life decisions. Research has thoroughly examined physician and nurses’ involvement and attitude in the matter, but little has been researched regarding social workers. This study aimed to identify the factors that affect hospice social workers’ attitude towards physician-assisted suicide and how California’s End of Life Option Act affects their practice. In-depth face-to- face interviews with 8 hospice social workers were conducted. The study found that all 8 participants held positive attitudes towards physician-assisted suicide, support the End of Life Option Act, and feel prepared to assist patients and handle requests for the End of Life Option. Factors such as social work values and professional experience have a positive effect and validate their attitude, and factors such as religion does not affect their attitude. Due to low participation, the overall results were limited; therefore, additionally research should be extensively conducted to gain a better understanding. Regardless, a structured physician-assisted suicide protocol for social workers would benefit micro practice and macro developments.

Included in

Social Work Commons