The impact of personal and professional loss on advance care planning and effective care delivery for healthcare social workers

Cara L. Wallace, Yit Mui Khoo, Leslie Hinyard, Jennifer E. Ohs, Dulce M. Cruz-Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Personal experiences can influence the practice of social work. However, the connection between past experiences with death and social workers’ practice has been underexplored. As such, this study surveyed social workers (N = 74) about their personal and professional experiences of loss, personal advance care planning, and professional practices. Results demonstrated that social workers that experienced prior loss were more likely to complete an advance directive and communicate their end-of-life wishes. Additionally, those who had experienced personal and professional loss showed greater effectiveness on measures of patient- and family-centered communication and care delivery. Findings suggest positive outcomes for encouraging social workers to connect their personal and professional experiences surrounding death and dying to effectively serve in their professional capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-368
Number of pages11
JournalFamilies in Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • Advance care planning
  • Clinical practice
  • End-of-life care
  • Palliative care
  • Social work education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this