Unmet needs at the end of life: Perceptions of hospice social workers

Elizabeth Mayfield Arnold, Katherine Abbott Artin, Devin Griffith, Judi Lund Person, Kristina G. Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Among persons at the end of life, it is important to understand whether the needs of patients are being adequately addressed. In particular, in hospice settings where the emphasis is on comfort care and quality of life, we know little about the presence of unmet needs. The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of hospice social workers in working with hospice patients who had unmet needs at the end of life. Surveys were mailed to hospice social workers (N = 212) in two Southeastern states with a response rate of 36%. Results revealed that hospice social workers perceived patients to experience a wide variety of unmet needs-more commonly at the time of admission than during subsequent patient interactions. The most common unmet need reported at both times was a decreased ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable. In situations where unmet needs exist, social workers reported that the most common perceived reasons were patient- related psychosocial issues and family conflict/issues. Additionally, a variety of interventions were used to address unmet needs, but a large number of barriers appear to impact outcomes in the cases. Results suggest that hospice patients experience a number of unmet needs, many of which are potentially treatable problems and concerns. Hospice professionals must continue to seek ways to assess and intervene effectively with patients who have unmet needs. doi:10.1300/J457v02n04_04Copyright (c) by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Care242007032061831552-4256PDFEnglisharticle

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-83
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 20 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • End-of-life care
  • Hospice
  • Social work
  • Symptom management
  • Unmet needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Unmet needs at the end of life: Perceptions of hospice social workers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this