Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Sharon K. Patten, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Francine Chakolis, MSW

Third Advisor

Lisa Berman, MSW, LISW


This study sought to discover the use of advance directives as reported by nursing home social workers. The focus is on residents who are living in nursing homes and are sixty years old or older. One hundred social workers in Minnesota were randomly surveyed on the current rate of advance directive use, barriers to completing the forms, and perceptions from social workers about whether they have or not have adequate knowledge and education to teach about advance directives. A review of the literatiare on advance directives shows the average use is only 5-18% for the elderly population. Survey findings confirm that the average use of advance directives is similar to the general average for the elderly population. Common barriers include procrastination, fear of death and dying, dependence on family members to make decisions, and lack of knowledge of advanced directives. Many social workers perceive they have adequate training and education on advance directives, but are open to further information on state laws and medical terminology. Further implications for social work practice include continued research on advance directives. The research shows that even with new forms combining living will and health care power of attorney forms, there is a lack of understanding by the elderly population.


SC 11.MSW.1999.Sigstad.D

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Social Work Commons