Braving Human Suffering: Death Education and its Relationship to Empathy and Mindfulness

Joanne Cacciatore, Kara Thieleman, Michael Killian, Kyoko Tavasolli

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Scopus citations


    Social workers are likely to encounter clients dealing with traumatic grief and death in their practice. Though death education has gained in popularity and acceptance, few social work students receive coursework in this area and many are unprepared to deal with their clients' and their own emotions regarding death and grief. Though death-related content may evoke provider avoidance, mindfulness and empathy may help regulate provider emotions and responses. This United States-based study evaluates the effectiveness of experiential death education on mindfulness and empathy. Measures in three separate cohorts were given at the beginning and end of the course. Results show statistically significant increases on the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the Questionnaire of Cognitive and Affective Empathy, indicating that such a course may be effective in increasing both mindfulness and empathy in social work students and those in related fields.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)91-109
    Number of pages19
    JournalSocial Work Education
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2 2015


    • Competency
    • Curriculum Development
    • Health Care
    • Mental Health
    • Pedagogies
    • Practice Learning
    • Professional Conduct
    • Reflection

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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