Monday, December 19, 2011

Spiritual Pain in Advanced Cancer: Symptom for Hospice Chaplains to Address

Quality of Life Can Improve

A vast majority of advanced cancer patients receiving palliative care consider themselves spiritual and religious.  But spiritual pain is still common and is linked to lower quality of life.  This is another place in which the holistic hospice approach to mind and body may improve life’s final stage.

A study done by the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Texas, examined the frequency and intensity of spirituality, religiosity, and spiritual pain, and how spiritual pain was associated with symptom expression, coping, and spiritual quality of life.

Researchers interviewed 100 patients with advanced cancer and had them complete questionnaires assessing their symptoms and ability to cope. 

Spiritual pain was reported in 44%, and was associated with lower spiritual quality of life. Patients with spiritual pain reported that it contributed adversely to their physical/emotional symptoms. There was a trend toward increased depression, anxiety, anorexia, and drowsiness among patients with spiritual pain, although this may not have been significant after corrections.

Every Pathways Hospice patient can have visits from extremely well qualified spiritual care counselors to give unbiased spiritual or religious support to patient or family members, to identify and resolve spiritual concerns, to explore the meaning of life, to administer sacraments, or to be a warm listening presence when needed.

This study can be found at J Pain Symptom Manage.  2011; 41(6):986-94 (ISSN: 1873-6513).

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