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Social Work


Kenneth Larimore


Research indicates that working with dying patients and their families could causeemotional reactions that not only affect their well-being but their quality of life and desire to continue in their profession. Although researchers have examined compassion fatigue among other professionals, there is a gap in research on the phenomenon among hospice social workers. The purpose of this generic qualitative study was to obtain a richer understanding about how hospice social workers cope with death, what their experiences are with compassion fatigue, and how their quality of life is impacted by their work. The conceptual framework was the transactional theory of stress and coping, which views stress as a transactional relationship between the person and the environment. Eight hospice social workers in the North Florida area of the United States participated in semistructured interviews. Participants were selected using purposive sampling. Content analysis of interview data included coding to summarize or condense the data into seven themes: experiences are influenced by the setting and length of the relationship, maintaining boundaries and acknowledgment of being a job helps with coping, personal losses impact their grief, religious beliefs and faith plays a significant role in coping, there are positive factors in how the job impacts their quality of life, there are also negative factors and compassion fatigue is relatable. The perspectives of social workers who work in hospice care may provide insight on practice approaches to better respond to their needs. With this knowledge, social work leaders may be better able to implement responsive self-care approaches that might mitigate the secondary trauma experienced by hospice social workers and keep these valued professionals in the profession.

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