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ERIC Number: EJ926086
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Apr
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0037-8046
Self-Determination, the Right to Die, and Culture: A Literature Review
McCormick, Andrew J.
Social Work, v56 n2 p119-128 Apr 2011
Self-determination is a primary ethical principle underlying social work practice in health care settings. Since the 1970s, a right-to-die movement that shares the social work commitment to self-determination has grown and influences end-of-life care decisions. However, the role of culture is notably absent in discussions of the right to die. A literature review was conducted to explore self-determination and the role of culture in the context of the history of the right-to-die movement. A total of 54 articles met the criteria for inclusion in the review. Of the total, 21 related to self-determination, and 12 related to ethnicity and culture at the end of life. A history based on the review of the right-to-die movement is presented. The review found that social workers support passively hastening death and that views of self-determination are affected by both law and culture. In response, social workers will face three tasks: (1) becoming more public in their support for client self-determination as an important standard in end-of-life care, (2) being more explicit in support of diverse cultural traditions in end-of-life decision making, and (3) expanding their traditional educational and bridging roles between families and medical personnel.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW). 750 First Street NE Suite 700, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-227-3590; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A