Attitudes of long term care social workers toward physician -assisted -suicide
Erlbaum-Zur, Phyllis D.
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This study sought to examine attitudes of long-term-care social workers toward physician-assisted-suicide (PAS) and the factors which impact on their attitudes. It also sought to examine their knowledge and involvement in the PAS debate and their involvement with health care planning and end-of-life issues. The study was an explanatory cross-sectional, quantitative study.;The study was conducted with a sample of social workers who are employed in not-for-profit long-term-care facilities in New York State which are member facilities of New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aged (NYAHSA). Three hundred and twelve social workers responded to a mailed self-administered survey. The data was analyzed through descriptive and inferential statistical tests.;The findings suggest that long-term-care social workers are experienced with end-of-life issues and assume a leading role in the area of advance health care planning in their facilities. The findings suggest that social workers in long-term-care have diverse attitudes about PAS, with the majority tending to agree that PAS can be an end-of-life option under certain circumstances. The findings further indicate that as social workers spend more time with the dying in long-term-care, their concerns for the elderly as a vulnerable population increases and their attitudes toward PAS become more cautious. Social workers in long-term-care who responded to this survey do not feel adequately prepared educationally for the complicated issues related to PAS and have limited formal involvement in the debate despite their prominent role in end-of-life work in nursing homes.