World Religions and Their Ethical Decisions on Withdrawing Treatment and Determining Death (2 credit hours)

Program Summary:  This course compares religious perspectives on death and end of life decisions.  The course explores Judaism, Christianity, Islam, indigenous faiths, Hinduism, and Buddhism and compares their ethical frameworks for end of life determinations.  Differences between Western traditions, Eastern traditions, and indigenous faith systems are examined.  The course offers clinicians an opportunity to increase competence and proficiency when working with different religious traditions in end of life care.

This course is recommended for social workers and is appropriate for beginning and intermediate levels of practice.  This course is not recommended for NBCC ethics credit.

Course Reading:  An Explanation and Analysis of how world religions formulate their ethical decisions on withdrawing treatment and determining death

Find the reading at:

Publisher:  Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine (2015) 10:6

Course Objectives:  To enhance professional practice, values, skills, and knowledge by identifying key issues related to religious traditions and end of life decision making.

Learning Objectives:  Compare the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements’ understanding of Biblical mandates and obedience to Jewish law.  Describe Thomas Aquinas’ schematic called Natural Law.  Describe the viewpoint of indigenous traditions on the location of death.  Describe the Hindu concept of moksha.

Review our pre-reading study guide.

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1: Edmund Pelligrino noted: "The so-called 'definitions' of death fall into two categories:  the philosophical and the ______________."
2: Descartes' concept, cogito ergo sum, places greater value on
3: Which of the following offered a definition of death that now dominates European and North American medicine?
4: Which of the following three movements within contemporary Judaism believes that obedience to Jewish law is mandatory because it comes from God and is the most traditional in their understanding of Biblical mandates?
5: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism all agree that
6: Which branch of Judaism does not overwhelmingly accept neurological criteria in determining death?
7: Christianity borrowed from the Platonic view that the human is comprised of two separate components,
8: The Roman Catholic Church developed a(n) ___________ structure.
9: The Catholic position supports neurological criteria determined by the medical community as appropriate definitions of death.
10: Thomas Aquinas' Natural Law explores
11: Eastern Orthodox Christianity believes that moral issues can be understood
12: Which of the following describes the Orthodox use of the principle Economia?
13: The Protestant term priesthood of all believers includes the notion that individuals are responsible for turning only to _____________ to ascertain the morality of an action.
14: English theologian, Richard Hooker, formulated the view that theological and ethical judgments should be based on
15: In the Presbyterian church, statements issued by the General Assembly are
16: In 1988 the Presbyterian General Assembly produced a position paper dealing specifically with questions about withdrawing support.  The paper states that in these situations, the goals of medical care include all of the following except:
17: Using the Qur'an and Sunnah, these Islamic texts spend considerable time talking about
18: In Islam, there is little disagreement on
19: The orientation and goal of moral reasoning in Indigenous traditions is maintaining
20: For indigenous traditions, which of the following is a common location of death?
21: Hinduism characterizes itself as a way of life rather than as one religious tradition and centers on practice, specifically doing what is right, or
22: In Hinduism, discourse on death typically focuses on what constitutes ________________ in religious and next life terms.
23: In Hinduism, which of the following constitutes a bad death?
24: The Buddha emphasized the necessity of
25: In Chinese traditions, death occurs when
26: Shinto is an optimistic religion that focuses on all of the following except:
27: The Tibetan Book of the Dead is read at the beside of the dying to help them reach the goal of the
28: In Tibetan traditions, the dying process takes a total of ____________ after respiration stops.
29: Western Zen practitioners and teachers write considerably about
30: When comparing western and eastern traditions, Hinduism and Buddhism understand the cessation of heart, brain and lung function as the __________ of the process of dying.

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Free State Social Work, LLC, provider #1235, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. Free State Social Work, LLC maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 9/6/2021 - 9/6/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 2 continuing education credits.

Free State Social Work has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP NO. 6605. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Free State Social Work is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

G.M. Rydberg-Cox, MSW, LSCSW is the Continuing Education Director at Free State Social Work and responsible for the development of this course.  She received her Masters of Social Work in 1996 from the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois-Chicago and she has over 20 years of experience.  She has lived and worked as a social worker in Chicago, Boston, and Kansas City.  She currently practices in the area of hospital/medical social work.  The reading materials for this course were developed by another organization.