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Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2014 Nov;31(7):735-48. doi: 10.1177/1049909113506035. Epub 2013 Sep 26.

To be truly alive: motivation among prison inmate hospice volunteers and the transformative process of end-of-life peer care service.

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College of Nursing, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Oregon Health and Sciences University, Portland, OR, USA.
Mercy Medical Center, Dyersville, IA, USA.
College of Nursing, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.


Some US prisons are meeting the growing need for end-of-life care through inmate volunteer programs, yet knowledge of the motivations of inmate caregivers is underdeveloped. This study explored the motivations of inmate hospice volunteers from across Louisiana State (n = 75) through an open-ended survey, a grounded theory approach to analysis, and comparison of responses by experience level and gender. Participants expressed complex motivations; Inter-related themes on personal growth, social responsibility and ethical service to vulnerable peers suggested that inmate caregivers experience an underlying process of personal and social transformation, from hospice as a source of positive self-identity to peer-caregiving as a foundation for community. Better understanding of inmate caregiver motivations and processes will help prisons devise effective and sustainable end of life peer-care programs.


end of life; hospice volunteer; peer-care; prison hospice

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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