Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiThomaso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Terri Erbacher, Ph.D., Chairperson

Second Advisor

Rosemary Mennuti, Ed.D., 2nd Chairperson

Third Advisor

John Pierce, Ph.D., 3rd Chairperson


Death, an inevitable concept that connects us as humans, can cause significant anxiety in individuals. Literature suggests that some medical professionals choose the field because of their own inner struggles with death (Neimeyer et al., 2004). Archival interview data were utilized in this action- oriented research to explore the notion of death anxiety in professionals who are working with medically fragile children. Twenty-six employees were individually interviewed at a residential medical facility. Additionally, a retrospective journal was utilized to understand the author’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences during internship. In order to examine the potential categories and themes that the author developed and to reduce personal bias, a validation team was utilized. Through reviewing the structured interviews, three perspectives of death were described, based on the participants’ responses (i.e. the actual death of a patient, anticipation of death of self, and anticipation of the death of family members). Regardless of job title, age, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or years of experience, the majority of individuals did not share death anxiety of self or others. Rather, the participants described having increased mindfulness of medical conditions, awareness/appreciation of life, and knowledge and beliefs on life sustaining equipment. Based upon this current research study, medical personnel may benefit from medical facilities promoting positive self-care through enlisting motivational speakers, providing in-services on the topic, and providing training programs (e.g., stress management).