Date of Award

Fall 2007

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Recently researchers have become increasingly interested in how we are going to care for our growing elderly population. Little, however, has been done to examine the personal attitudes toward death, dying and spirituality of the professionals who care for the terminally ill. The purpose of this study is to examine spiritual development among hospice nurses who work in palliative care. Data were obtained using qualitative, in-depth interviews with 20 hospice nurses (4 males, 16 females) from ages 36 to 61. The interviews were conducted at three different hospice organizations located in the northwest, northeast and New England regions of the United States. Analyses examined the personal adversities, individual experiences with death and dying and life-course in an effort to explain occupational choices and faith/spiritual development of the respondents. In conclusion, although all three aspects for spiritual development were found, the most salient influence was the gradual maturation of faith. Their faith was established before their occupation at hospice, and thus was instrumental in pursuing such a career. It was also found that low death-anxiety is associated with higher levels of faith.