Consideration of hastening death among hospice patients and their families

Elizabeth Mayfield Arnold, Katherine Abbott Artin, Judi Lund Person, Devin L. Griffith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to describe hospice social workers' perceptions of cases where hospice patients or their family members expressed a desire to hasten the patient's death. Surveys were mailed to hospice social workers (n=212) in two Southeastern states. Response rate was 36%. Of the 73 respondents, 56.2% had a patient and 26.1% had a patient's family member express a desire to hasten the patient's death. Most patients had a cancer diagnosis (70.4%) and were predominantly male (66.6%), white (94.4%), and were married/had a partner (66.7%). Poor quality of life (28.3%) and concern for suffering (28.3%) were the most common reasons reported for the request to hasten death. These data suggest that the desire for hastened death is not uncommon among hospice patients. Social workers perceive these requests to be related primarily to unmet needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-532
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Hospices
  • assisted suicide
  • hastening death
  • suicide
  • symptom management
  • unmet needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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