Date of Award

2001

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Human Development

Advisor

Marc Baranowski

Second Committee Member

Gary L. Schilmoeller

Third Committee Member

Elizabeth H. Bicknell

Abstract

Volunteers are an essential part of the hospice movement, which is designed to provide services to the terminally ill, their families, and friends, in a manner that allows death to be as dignified and peaceful as possible. Motivations for volunteering, attitudes about death and dying, and demographic characteristics were assessed in this survey study of Maine hospice volunteers (573 females, 128 males). The extent to which religious and spiritual beliefs were associated with volunteers’ ability to cope with the many aspects of death and dying that they confront were also examined. Based on responses to a standardized instrument, the Collett-Lester Fear of Death and Dying Scale, respondents’ reported relatively low levels of death anxiety and high levels of death awareness for themselves and others in their lives. The most common reasons for becoming a hospice volunteer were: desiring to help persons in need, wanting to ease the pain of those in hospice programs, having unique expertise to contribute, wanting to fulfill a civic responsibility, and wanting to fulfill a religious obligation. Sixty-five percent of the sample reported that spiritual beliefs had a major influence on their ability to cope with death and dying. The results provide information that can be of assistance in the recruitment, training, and education of hospice volunteers in Maine.

Share