CHARACTERISTICS, EXPERIENCES AND ATTITUDES OF THANATOLOGY STUDENTS
AuthorBROOKS, RICHARD JOSEPH
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe principal purpose of this study was to compare similarities and differences in selected personal variables and death attitudes between university students enrolled in a death education course and students not enrolled in a death education course. Secondary attention was directed towards an analysis of the relationship of personal characteristics and death-related experiences with attitudes towards death. Three groups of university students, a death education-enrolled or completed group (n = 90), a death education-enrolled only subgroup (n = 47), and a non-enrolled control group (n = 46) were compared using the Health and Illness Survey. The HIS measures a wide range of variables including personal characteristics, death-related experiences and attitudes towards death. A correlational, ex post facto research design was utilized in order to compare the relationship of each of these variables with group membership. Additional correlational analyses were computed to reveal the degree of relationship between the personal variables and attitudes towards death. Findings revealed that the death education students reported experiencing their first significant personal involvement with death at a younger age, and desire more open discussion of death during childhood than the non enrolled comparison group. Death education students rated themselves significantly higher than the non death education students on present physical health and also on self esteem following completion of the HIS. With regard to the death attitudes findings, the death education-enrolled group reported higher levels of fear of personal death than those not enrolled. Additional results indicated that significant relationships did exist between death attitudes and several personal characteristics and death-related experiences. Particularly noteworthy were relationships indicating that a more favorable childhood environment regarding death-related experiences correlated with increased levels of coping with death and dying and decreased levels of fear of death and dying. Implications of these findings directed toward parents, counselors and educators were discussed, and recommendations were made to assist future research efforts in this area.
Degree ProgramCounseling and Guidance