Ethical issues for hospice volunteers

Patricia Berry, Sally Planalp

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Scopus citations


    Health care professionals usually receive professional education in ethics, but the half million hospice volunteers in the United States may receive only brief training that is limited to confidentiality and the volunteer role. The purpose of this study was to explore ethical issues hospice volunteers confront in their work. Interviews with 39 hospice volunteers were conducted, audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using qualitative methods. Prominent themes were dilemmas about gifts, patient care and family concerns, issues related to volunteer roles and boundaries, and issues surrounding suicide and hastening death. Suggestions for training include discussions of ethics after initial training once volunteers had confronted ethical issues, with special emphasis on strategies for negotiating their uneasy role positioned between health care professional and friend.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)458-462
    Number of pages5
    JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


    • End-of-life
    • Ethics
    • Hospice
    • Palliative care
    • Volunteer

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine(all)


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