Social work role in hospice pain management: A national survey

Debra Parker Oliver, Elaine Wittenberg-Lyles, Karla T. Washington, Seema Sehrawat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This article reports on an exploratory study of hospice social workers' assessment and collaborative practices related to pain management; especially caregiver concerns about patient pain. A non-randomized national survey indicated that social workers assess the components of pain but are not able to devote as much attention to it as they feel is needed. While most reported assessing patient and family needs, many do not use standardized assessment instruments. These data suggested that while social workers may understand their role in pain management they struggled for the time and tools needed to help address caregiver concerns related to pain management. This study suggests that the development of standardized assessment instruments for hospice social workers would be helpful and points to the value of team training and discussion about ways the social worker can best assist caregivers with pain management issues. Research is needed on social work interventions with caregivers related to pain to establish an evidence base for hospice social work, cement a role identity for social work in pain management, and facilitate increased inter-disciplinary collaboration to improve the team response to all aspects of pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-74
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Assessment
  • Hospice
  • Inter-disciplinary team
  • Pain management
  • Social work


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