Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF AMY J. PIONTEK, for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Health Education, presented on June 2, 2017 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale TITLE: FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH HEALTH EDUCATION SPECIALISTS’ ATTITUDES TOWARDS PROVIDING END-OF-LIFE EDUCATION MAJOR PROFESSORS: Dr. Aaron Diehr and Dr. Roberta Ogletree End-of-life decisions are often difficult to make for patients and families, particularly with a new diagnosis of a terminal disease. Completing advance directives can alleviate much of the burden related to the end-of-life decision making process; however, many Americans do not have advance directives established. Additionally, there is a lack of knowledge and use of end- of-life resources available to terminally ill patients and their families, resulting in a poor quality of life. End-of-life and palliative care initiatives have been developed in the United States over the last two decades. There is an increasing number of terminally ill patients receiving end-of- life care due to the Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) of 1991 and the credentialing mandates set forth by the accrediting body for baccalaureate nursing programs. However, there are still many Americans who are unaware of end-of-life issues. By broadening the scope of practice among health educators, the general public will have a greater awareness of end-of-life issues, and an opportunity to establish advance directives. The purpose of the current study was to explore attitudinal differences between Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES) and Master Certified Health Education Specialists (MCHES) towards providing end-of-life education based on the factors of age, gender, ethnicity, religious influence, religious affiliation, level of education, additional certifications and licensures, previous coursework with death and dying, experience with terminally ill patients, and experience with loss of a loved one. A purposive, random sample of CHES and MCHES health education specialists whose names and mailing addresses were provided from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC), was used for this study. Participants completed a demographic survey as well as a survey pertaining to their attitudes towards providing end-of- life education. It was anticipated that, like the attitudes of nurses, health educators would want to take active roles in assisting people with end-of-life decisions and provide end-of-life education for the general population. A sample size of 373 health education specialists participated in this study. The three factors of age, previous education on death and dying, and experience with caring for terminally ill persons and their families were associated with positive attitudes towards providing end-of-life education. This study suggests a need for death and dying education along with experiential learning to be incorporated in the health education curricula in order prepare health educators to advocate and educate the public and terminally ill patients as well as their families about advance care planning and their health care options at the end-of-life. By increasing the job role of the health educator, more people will understand the dying process and make informed healthcare decisions, thus improving their quality of life at the end of life.
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