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Hospice and palliative social workers' experiences with clients at risk of suicide

  • Karla T. Washington (a1), David L. Albright (a2), Debra Parker Oliver (a1), L. Ashley Gage (a3), Alexandria Lewis (a4) and Megan J. Mooney (a1)...

Abstract

Objective:

We sought to determine the frequency with which hospice and palliative social workers encounter patients, family caregivers, and other clients at risk of suicide, and to discover the extent to which hospice and palliative social workers feel prepared to address issues related to suicide in their professional practice.

Method:

We conducted a cross-sectional survey of hospice and palliative social workers, recruiting a convenience sample of volunteer respondents through advertisements at professional conferences and listservs, and via social media accounts associated with national organizations, state hospice and palliative care associations, and individual healthcare professionals.

Results:

Most respondents reported having worked with patients, family caregivers, or other clients who had exhibited warning signs of suicide during the previous year. Fewer respondents indicated that they had worked with patients and family members who had attempted or died by suicide. While the majority of respondents believed they possessed sufficient knowledge and skills to intervene effectively with individuals at risk of suicide, they indicated that additional education on this topic would be valuable for their professional practice.

Significance of results:

These study results suggest that suicide-related competencies are important in the practice of hospice and palliative social work. Future education and training efforts should include skill development in addition to knowledge building.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Karla T. Washington, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Missouri, MA306 Medical Sciences Building, Columbia, Missour 65212. E-mail: washingtonkar@health.missouri.edu.

References

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Hospice and palliative social workers' experiences with clients at risk of suicide

  • Karla T. Washington (a1), David L. Albright (a2), Debra Parker Oliver (a1), L. Ashley Gage (a3), Alexandria Lewis (a4) and Megan J. Mooney (a1)...

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