Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Debora Rice


The role of the hospice social worker is unclear and misunderstood by interdisciplinary team members due to role blurring, communication challenges, and poor collaboration efforts. This is important because these actions may result in decreased quality of patient care and decreased quality of life for the clinical hospice social workers. The purpose of this action research project was to explore communication, role blurring, professional activities and abilities, and cohesive goals among hospice clinical social workers. The theoretical foundation for this research was the model of interdisciplinary collaboration (MIC) which was used to describe both the concepts of interdisciplinary collaboration and the influences on that collaboration. The research question addressed the 5 concepts of the MIC to fully understand the collaboration challenges identified within hospice interdisciplinary teams. This action research study utilized the design and method of open-ended questions to gather the information using an online questionnaire. The data were coded by the action researcher to yield the key results of 3 main concepts of challenges for clinical hospice social workers (a) underutilization and misunderstanding of skillsets, (b) role blurring among the disciplines, and (c) working toward cohesive goals. A conclusion of this research was that hospice social workers are misunderstood, which presents a spectrum of challenges for the entire hospice interdisciplinary team. Implications for positive social change occurred through recommendations to reduce or eliminate these challenges, thus improving the quality of patient care and clinical hospice social workers' quality of life.

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