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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2015 Dec;50(6):861-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.06.015. Epub 2015 Aug 20.

What Gives Meaning in Life to Patients With Advanced Cancer? A Comparison Between Spanish, German, and Swiss Patients.

Author information

1
Escola d'Infermeria Gimbernat, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain.
2
Palliative Care Unit, Institut Català d'Oncologia, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain; School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.
3
Department of Nursing, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.
4
Department of Palliative Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.
5
School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: abalaguer@uic.es.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Meaning in life (MiL) is a construct that varies across individuals, situations, cultures, and countries, and protects against emotional distress at the end of life.

OBJECTIVES:

To examine MiL in inpatients with advanced cancer from Barcelona, Spain, and to compare the findings with those obtained in German and Swiss samples.

METHODS:

This was a cross-sectional study in which the Schedule for Meaning in Life Evaluation (SMiLE) was administered. The SMiLE asks respondents to list individual areas that give meaning in their lives and then to rate their current level of importance and satisfaction with the listed areas.

RESULTS:

A total of 101 inpatients completed the SMiLE. The Index of Satisfaction was 76.8 ± 21.1, the Index of Weighting was 88.0 ± 13.0, and the Index of Weighted Satisfaction was 76.9 ± 20.7. Family, partnership, well-being, and friends were the four areas listed by the largest proportion of Spanish patients. Compared with the German sample, Spanish patients were more likely to list well-being (P < 0.01) and pleasure (P < 0.05) and less likely to list animals/nature, leisure time, and finances (P < 0.01). With respect to their Swiss counterparts, Spanish patients were more likely to list health (P < 0.01) and less likely to list friends, leisure time, animals/nature, and finances (P < 0.01).

CONCLUSION:

Differences were identified in the areas of MiL listed by the participants according to country of origin. Compared with their German and Swiss counterparts, the Spanish patients listed more areas involving interpersonal relationships. Interpersonal relationships, at both the family and wider social level, are reported to be the areas that give the greatest MiL to these patients. These aspects, therefore, should be considered when drawing up care plans designed to help patients achieve the maximum possible comfort and quality of life.

KEYWORDS:

End of life; advanced cancer; end-of-life care; meaning in life; palliative care; quality of life; wish to die; wish to hasten death

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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