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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social workers’ experience working with families with children facing death Wilkey, Lisa


This study addressed the question: “What meaning do social workers give to their experience of working with families with children facing death?” Its purpose was to explore the meaning social workers attach to their unique professional role in this particular area of practice. Four social work participants from a children’s hospital were recruited, chosen because of their experience in working directly with this population. Criteria for inclusion were a minimum education level of a Master’s Degree in Social Work and at least two years of experience working in the hospital setting. A qualitative descriptive approach, drawing on phenomenology, was utilized. Each participant was individually interviewed for one hour using a semi-structured format. A phenomenological approach to data analysis was used. After careful review, four areas of meaning-making emerged: what brought participants to this work; meaning-making within the function of the role; connection and companionship; and, challenges faced within the role. These results add to the relatively small base of knowledge regarding the experience of social workers who work in pediatric end-of-life care in a healthcare setting.

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