Hospice volunteer as patient advocate: a trait approach

Carol A Savery, Nichole Egbert
Palliative & Supportive Care 2010, 8 (2): 159-67

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to examine traits of hospice volunteers that facilitate their success in this informal caregiving role, with the larger goal of alleviating the family caregiver burden and providing additional support to the hospice patient. To achieve this goal, a new scale was developed to tap into how hospice volunteers view their patient advocacy role.

METHOD: Participants were 136 trained hospice volunteers from the Midwest who had direct contact with hospice patients. Volunteers mailed anonymous surveys that included measures of argumentativeness, locus of control, attitudes toward patient advocacy, and key demographic items. A new scale was developed to measure patient advocacy by hospice volunteers called the Hospice Volunteer as Patient Advocate.

RESULTS: Submitting this scale to exploratory factor analysis, two factors emerged: duty as patient advocate and support of patient rights. After performing a multiple regression analysis, results showed that female volunteers who were high in internal locus of control were more likely to perceive that volunteers have a duty as patient advocates. Younger volunteers with more years of volunteer experience, higher levels of internal locus of control, and lower external locus of control were more likely to support patient rights.

SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: The findings of this study could be used to formalize hospice volunteers' role as patient advocates, thus better utilizing them as committed, caring communicators and improving patient-centered care at end-of-life.

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