Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Volunteer workers in medical care--Attitudes; Hospice care; Motivation (Psychology);


This study was designed to identify factors which motivate volunteers to work with terminally ill patients in Medicare certified hospice programs in Iowa. The study was delimited to volunteers of the 40 Medicare certified hospice programs existing in Iowa at the time the study was executed. Results of the study were based on responses received from 205 (52%) of the 400 questionnaires distributed. Descriptive statistics were used in analyzing the data. Subjects used a Likert scale to rate the importance of 12 specific reasons to volunteer to work with a hospice program. The need to help others was rated as the most important reason by 85% of those sampled. Also, volunteers were motivated by the good things they heard about hospice (68%), and that a friend or family member was helped by hospice (48%). The lowest rated response (4.9%) was "I want to get experience that might help me in obtaining future employment." This is not surprising, considering 61% of those responding were retired. The statement "I want something to do in my spare time" also received little consideration (14%). The majority of respondents were female (86%), retired (61%), and 61> years of age (61%). Many respondents lived in a rural community of less than 5,000 people (42.1%). Most (84.4%) volunteered for other causes, had a high school or higher education, and traveled between 1-500 miles annually in their role as hospice volunteer. Results of this study indicate that hospice volunteers working with terminally ill patients have a strong desire to help others, and contribute to a program that has helped them or their friends. Replication of this study is recommended in other regions of the United States comparing differences in rural versus urban populations. It is also recommended that differences in motivation of male versus female hospice volunteers be studied to assess why so many more women than men volunteer for hospice programs.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Thomas M. Davis

Second Advisor

Sue A. Joslyn

Third Advisor

Larry D. Hensley


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Date Original


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