First Advisor

Rosann Ross

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Document Type


Date Created



Historically, the medical field has viewed death and dying as incurable ‘medical failures,’ and as a result, many healthcare professionals have difficulties when facing a patient who is dying or at the end of their life. These individuals will use avoidant behavior to avoid end-of-life (EOL) patients or can have difficulty providing essential aspects of care including communication, that contribute to building a strong relationship between the healthcare provider and patient. For the healthcare professional (HCP), this can stem from anxiety related to thoughts of death and a lack of educational support or experience. The study of death is where the sciences and humanities meet, and therefore can only fully be explored using interdisciplinary methods. For this study, healthcare professionals (MD/DO/Counseling) were interviewed with questions derived from the approaches used by psychology, philosophy/bioethics, and communication as well as the interdisciplinary research of healthcare. Phenomenological qualitative thematic analysis using the program NVIVO was used to derive common themes from the interviews, integrated with published research. Themes include Supportive Techniques used by HCP to process challenging emotions because of working with EOL patients, the importance placed on patients experiencing a Good Death and subcodes in Work Environment such as Patient Support via Emotion, Colleague Inadequacy, Administrative Support, and Patient Provider Miscommunication. This research provides a foundation of data for future research paths implementing empathy and evidence-based practice standards into a greater diversity of specialties to support the need for increased mental and emotional support from healthcare administration and redefine professionalism in healthcare.

Abstract Format



Health Communication | Other Public Health | Psychology


end-of-life; communication; death; death anxiety; end-of-life discussion; healthcare; end of life; patient provider communication




62 pages

Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.