Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Social Work (M.S.W.)

Degree Program

School of Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Paola Leon

Second Advisor

Dr. Sally Pelon

Third Advisor

Dr. Emily Nichols

Academic Year



This study seeks to understand the experience of end-of-life caregivers and how their subscribed communication norms regarding death impacted their caregiving experience and preparedness to make decisions on their person’s behalf. Eight participants were recruited from a Midwestern support group facility with a population of nearly 8,000 members that include cancer and grief support members. Criteria required adult participants that were less than 10 years out from their caregiving experience. Phenomenological research methods were used capturing eight opened ended interviews about participants death communication history, caregiving experience, and reflection on current death communication norms. Thematic analysis was utilized to assess common themes amongst the participants. Themes included patterns of communication norms, previous caregiving experience and longer term caregiving as protective factors, and collaborative communication about caregiving was a protective factor for reassurance in decision making. The themes support further research and implications for future practice for earlier interventions to establish end-of-life care directives, education about end-of-life and care needs, and postventions for caregivers.

Included in

Social Work Commons