Date of Conferral





Human Services


Randy Heinrich


The development of the social work assessment tool (SWAT) was an initiative designed by members of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization to move hospice and palliative care social workers into the arena of viewing the family as an extension of the patient. Of those dying in the United States, 1 out of 4 is a military veteran (vet) in need of assessments, culturally relevant interventions, and/or supports at the end of life. For military families, caring for vets at the end of life can prompt stressors that may require culturally unique assessments and/or interventions. Tsai’s (2003) theory of stress served as the theoretical framework for this study; situated in an urban setting in the Southern United States explored how SWAT was used by hospice staff to address psychosocial, spiritual, emotional, and mental health needs of military families to corroborate SWAT use for militaries. Data collection included interviews of 7 staff members, observations of 2 interdisciplinary meetings, and 1 focus group, and analyses were thematic and propositional. When making sense of SWAT results to characterize the needs of military families, IDT members relayed 4 themes: (a) relinquishing some level of control to community-based hospice members, (b) a need for familial culture, (c) a need to be recognized for their service, and (d) the need to regain control after their loved one dies. IDT members appraised military caregiver needs in 11 subsets of SWAT. The findings for this study are significant, informed research questions, and illuminated SWAT use for military families as a viable tool for human service practitioners when providing culturally relevant interventions for military families.