1. In this study, individuals were found to experience peace at the end of life through acceptance, hope and living in the present.

2. Furthermore, making a sense of dying, living with dying, feeling connected and being reflective were themes relating to an individual’s experience of spirituality.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

It has been well documented that a diagnosis of terminal cancer has the potential to trigger psychological, social, and spiritual concerns as patients they move closer towards death. Although previous literature has focused on spirituality at the end of life and of the needs of family caregivers, none have focused specifically on terminal cancer patients. As a result, the objective of the present systematic review and qualitative meta-synthesis was to examine spirituality in terminal cancer patients.

Of 6151 identified studies, 37 were included in the meta-synthesis from March 2009-March 2022. Studies were included if they included the perspectives of terminal cancer patients aged 18 years or older on their spirituality or related concepts. Quality appraisal was performed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP). Data was thematically synthesized using a three-stage framework.

Results demonstrated that individuals may experience peace at the end of life through acceptance, hope, and living in the present. Furthermore, making a sense of dying, living with dying, feeling connected, and being reflective were themes relating to an individual’s experience of spirituality. Despite these findings, the study was limited by the lack of clarity surrounding the difference between the terms “advanced” and “terminal” in the literature which may have restricted the inclusion of all the relevant literature. Nonetheless, these results demonstrated that spirituality may be a transformative and positive experience for terminal cancer patients.

Click to read the study in Health Psychology Open 

Image: PD

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