Fear of Personal Death among Hospital Physicians
Y. Hamama-Raz, Z. Solomon, A. Ohry
School of Social Work and Dept. of Neuro-Rehabilitation, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer (Both affiliated with Tel Aviv University)
Many studies have tried to explain why professionals experience difficulty when dealing with, and in treating efficiently situations connected with death. We studied levels of personal fear among physicians in general hospitals and addressed 2 questions: Does exposure to death on professional and personal levels, affect the level of the fear of personal death which physicians experience? Is there a relationship between personality variables, represented by the repression-sensitization dimension, and level of fear of personal death? A sample of 233 physicians from 22 general hospitals who specialized in oncology, internal medicine, surgery, psychiatry or pediatrics was studied. Each answered 4 questionnaires with regard to demographic information, fear of personal death, level of repression-sensitization and exposure to the death of relatives and significant others. There were no differences in level of fear of personal death of physicians according to specialization, but those who had been exposed to death on the personal level, feared less their own death. With respect to the personality variable, tendency to sensitization, it was found that those who were sensitized exhibited a higher level of the fear of their own death compared to those who were repressive. Of the various demographic variables examined (sex, level of religiouobservance, age, number of children, health, professional experience) it was found that those: with many years of professional experience, who were relatively older, who were nonobservant religiously and who were in good health, had lower levels of personal fear of death; gender was not a factor.