Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations

Patient-Centered Care and Mindfulness in Hospice Volunteer Communication Experiences

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Lynda Dixon (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Sandra Faulkner (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Seth Oyer (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Kim Younghee (Committee Member)


Hospice agencies provide comforting care and improved quality of life for terminally ill patients who choose to cease curative treatments. Hospice volunteers offer social, informational, and task-oriented support to hospice patients, families, and hospice workers. Law requires that hospice organizations receiving federal reimbursements must involve volunteers in at least 5% of overall patient care (Hospice Foundation of America [HFA], 2010). This ethnographic and interview study explored the manifestations of patient-centered care (PCC), mindfulness, and communication in the hospice volunteer experience. The constant comparison methods of grounded theory (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Glaser & Strauss, 1967) allowed for category development by comparing one incident or situation to another, and by looking for similarities and differences. A Heart Model of Hospice Volunteer Experiences is proposed based on findings from interviews with hospice volunteers and in accordance with previous literature. This model may be used to guide hospice organizations in theoretical and applied understandings of PCC, mindfulness, and communication embedded in the hospice volunteer experience. Practical implications include recommendation lists developed to assist hospice organizations in recruitment and training efforts.