Applying Thanatology in Adult Education to Faciliate Learning of a Good Death Among Police Officer Trainees

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies and Research

First Advisor

W. Lee Pierce

Advisor Department

Educational Studies and Research


Samples of populations were explored through a quasi experimental study into gathering information about existing knowledge of legally-available quality of life choices. Death process educational information was presented to the experimental group based upon interpretation and application of the Uniform Determination of Death Act, passed by Congress in 1991. This Act established legal definitions of death and mandated that recipients of medical care be given the legal opportunity to choose a medical quality of life. Educational opportunities were made possible because the Act fails in educational specificity in a number of areas. The Act provides that recipients of medical care be informed of quality of life choices. One of those areas, defining or describing how an individual could make a medical choice, is represented in legal documents such as written advance directives. Advance directives can be specified at the health care facility prior to a medical procedure, or can be prepared in a living will. Informing patients of choices is quite different from educating them about what the choices involve, about complicated terminology, and about complicated legal processes. A population sample of police officer trainees was queried about knowledge of available quality of life choices; personal preparations for death; personal meaning of death; the index of threat of death; and religious involvement. The educational treatment for the experimental group consisted of information about: legal and medical criteria; advance directives; treatment decisions; individual choices of quality of life; literature explanations of good and bad death; and perimeters of personal preparations for death. The study hypotheses were tested using analysis of variance; no statistically significant differences between the treatment or experimental group and the control group at post test were found on any of the measures.