Spiritual distress is prevalent in advanced disease, but often neglected, resulting in unnecessary suffering. Religion and/or spirituality have increasingly been recognized as key elements in patients’ experience of advanced illness. This study aims to explore spiritual care needs, experiences, preferences and examine the association between religious coping and quality of life among patients with advanced cancer.
Structured interviews were conducted with 135 patients in advanced cancer patients and their primary informal caregivers. Patients completed measures of QOL (McGill QOL questionnaire), religious coping (Brief Measure of Religious Coping [RCOPE] and Multidimensional Measure of Religion/ Spirituality), self-efficacy (General Self-Efficacy Scale), and sociodemographic variables. Both positive and negative religious coping and multiple dimensions of QOL (physical, physical symptom, psychological, existential, and support) were studied.
The median age of the population was 60.2 years and majority of the subjects were Hindus. The study revealed greater use of positive religious coping was associated with better overall QOL as well as higher scores on the existential and support QOL dimensions and was also related to more physical symptoms. However, greater use of negative religious coping was related to poorer overall QOL. Most patients believed it was important for health care professionals to consider patient spiritual concerns within the medical setting. Spiritual care was reportedly lacking, primarily due to staff members’ de-prioritisation and lack of time.
This study demonstrates that spiritual concerns are common among advanced cancer patients, and that they are associated with poorer psychological well-being. Spiritual care is an essential but neglected component of care, according to patients and their caregivers across a range of countries. The findings of the present study support the relationship between spirituality and health outcomes.
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All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.