Caitlyn Sokoll


Dying in the Hills: Examining Access and Utilization of Hospice Care in Appalachia


The purpose of this presentation is to understand barriers to hospice care in rural Appalachia and the impact on quality of end of life care. It begins with a literature review that identifies commonly held beliefs about hospice care. A second portion considers cultural implications through social work theories, diving into the strengths of Appalachian people and how they can uniquely benefit from hospice services. Finally, a program is established to attempt to increase utilization. This program provides education to primary care physicians, empowering them to have difficult conversations and make referrals for their patients when they become eligible for hospice care. Social workers play a valuable role in advocating for equitable healthcare access and addressing cultural beliefs to support vulnerable populations. Through research and education, hospice social workers can provide Appalachians with the dignity and support that they deserve at the end of their lives.


Caitlyn Sokoll is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker living in Pikeville, Kentucky. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in social work from the University of Pikeville in 2015, followed by a Master in Social Work from the University of Kentucky in 2017. Caitlyn serves as a hospice social worker at Bluegrass Care Navigators.
Currently a Doctor of Social Work candidate at the University of Kentucky, Caitlyn’s doctoral studies focus on healthcare access and utilization for terminally ill patients in rural Appalachia. She is certified in hospice and palliative care and applies her expertise by providing compassionate care to patients across various settings, including hospitals, nursing facilities, and private homes. She finds inspiration through the stories she hears from her hospice patients and their families.

Throughout her career, Caitlyn has demonstrated commitment to working alongside underserved communities, particularly within Appalachia. Her primary goal is to address disparities in healthcare access and empower individuals navigating complex health challenges. After completing her doctoral degree, Caitlyn hopes to engage in research initiatives and contribute to community organizations related to progress in the Appalachian region.