Date of Award

Spring 3-25-2004

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

MS in Physician Assistant Studies (PA)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Donna DeGracia

Second Advisor

Dawn B. Ludwig


To date there is little, if any, published data regarding hospice patients and physician assistants; there is a substantial amount of data available regarding physicians and hospice care. The purpose of this study was to determine if physician assistant attitudes and knowledge regarding hospice influenced their referral practices and compared those findings to physicians. Physician assistants who were current members of the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants were surveyed regarding knowledge and attitude towards hospice services. A total of 55 subjects (response rate of 55%) responded to the mailed survey, 60% of which were female. Respondents ages 40 years or less made up the majority, with a total of 61.8%. In regards to years in practice, 45.5% had been practicing medicine for 1 to 5 years and family practice comprised more than half of the respondents' area of practice, Overall, respondents demonstrated positive attitudes and excellent knowledge regarding hospice services. Physician assistants also voiced self-reported comfort in discussing hospice with patients and families regardless of perceived level of training and/or knowledge about hospice services. Statistically, attitude towards hospice did correlate to the number of terminally ill patients referred to hospice service. Knowledge did not correlate to the number of terminally ill patients referred to hospice service. Likewise, knowledge did not correlate with attitude towards hospice services. These findings differ from past research investigating physicians in which most concluded that attitude and knowledge did influence number of referrals. Although respondents were knowledgeable regarding hospice and demonstrated positive attitudes, physician assistants surveyed did not see a significant number of terminally ill patients in their practice and they also did not take the opportunity to discuss and refer those patients to hospice services.


Sc 11.PAS.2004.Farringt.K