A Qualitative Study of How Hospice Workers Cope With Their Level of Exposure to Death

Alex Sielaff, Lyla Rothschild, Dylan E. Horner, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To identify whether hospice workers hold unique and theoretically-informative perspectives about death, especially as they relate to terror management processes. Method: Twelve hospice workers from two hospices in Tucson, Arizona, United States, participated in semi-structured interviews. Interview and analytic practices were guided by Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Results: Three categories were identified in relation to death attitudes: effects of chronic confrontation with death; reasons for working in hospice; and perceptions of death in others. Conclusions: Two theoretically informative trends appeared. First, hospice workers largely manage death anxiety as identified by existing literature with the notable exception that hospice workers overall seem to integrate death and dying into their worldviews as a meaningful category, as opposed to avoiding thinking about death. Second, even among those regularly exposed to death, there seems to be a range across participants on a continuum from avoiding to confronting the topic of death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOmega: Journal of Death and Dying
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • death anxiety
  • death education
  • grounded theory
  • hospice
  • terror management theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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