Physicians' attitudes about social workers: Do they enhance or discourage collaboration in the communication of a terminal prognosis?

Susan Elaine McDonald, Fordham University

Abstract

Physicians are typically the professionals who inform patients of a terminal prognosis. However, in some institutional settings, this responsibility may be shared with interdisciplinary team members from other professions. Physicians often call upon social workers in particular to help in the communication of this information to terminally ill patients. The factors that influence physicians to collaborate with social workers in the communication of a term prognosis have not been adequately explored to date by previous researchers. A survey administered a non-random sample of 105 physicians that assessed physicians' attitudes toward: (a) collaboration with other professionals; (b) the roles of social workers; (c) the roles of patients; and (d) the communication of a terminal prognosis. A fifth section measured the level of death anxiety of participating physicians. Results of this study suggest: (a) that physicians who have a positive perception of collaboration with social workers are more likely to collaborate with them in the communication of a terminal prognosis; and (b) physicians who had taken a course in communication skills with terminally ill patients are more likely to collaborate with social workers in the communication of a terminal prognosis. Implication for social work practice, research and educational opportunities are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Social Work|Health Sciences, Medicine and Surgery

Recommended Citation

Susan Elaine McDonald, "Physicians' attitudes about social workers: Do they enhance or discourage collaboration in the communication of a terminal prognosis?" (January 1, 2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3010932.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3010932

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