Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work

Document Type



This study utilized an interpretive qualitative methodological approach to learn about the experiences of individuals with a Master of Social Work degree (MSWs) working in end-of-life (EOL) care with patients of Middle Eastern descent and their families. Specifically, it examined (1) how a sample of social workers obtained the skills necessary to provide culturally appropriate EOL care to clients and families of Middle Eastern descent; (2) the common intervention strategies social workers employ while providing this care; and (3) the recommendations they offer to others who anticipate encountering this population in their own practice. Data collection consisted of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 12 social workers in the greater Houston area. A directed approach to qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the data, with the assistance of Atlas.ti software. Participants cited formal educational preparation, on-the-job training, and their own life experience as the means by which they attained the skill set needed to provide culturally appropriate EOL care to patients of Middle Eastern descent and their families. Rapport-building strategies, educational interventions, interdisciplinary teamwork, and conducting EOL discussions were identified as common intervention strategies used by the participants when providing EOL care to patients of Middle Eastern descent and their families. Assessing the patient and family’s level of acculturation to U.S. society, the use of appropriate body language, and demonstrating sensitivity regarding the family’s values were common recommendations the participants made for other social workers encountering this particular population. Implications for social work practice and education include recommendations to increase opportunities for experiential learning, infusing palliative care principles into the curriculum of generalist social work practice, and the development of continuing education workshops to teach practitioners how to best provide EOL care to specific populations.



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Committee Chair

Maccio, Elaine M.



Included in

Social Work Commons