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Ann Palliat Med. 2017 Jul;6(3):279-283. doi: 10.21037/apm.2017.06.17.

Spirituality in young adults with end-stage cancer: a review of the literature and a call for research.

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Department of Psychology, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, USA.


Existing research finds that spiritual wellness may enhance quality of life in those with end-stage cancer. Unfortunately, much of the literature is focused on the spirituality of those in middle and older adulthood, leaving questions about the spirituality of young adults facing life-threatening illness. This article reviews the current landscape of spirituality in young adults with cancer. In addition, this paper serves as a call for research to consider the development of spirituality in this unique population. The literature shows that young adults with cancer are less likely to use mental health services compared to other age groups with cancer. Research tends to be restricted to early young adulthood with a focus on spiritual or religious practices and less about the meaning of spirituality in the context of their illness. A review of the development of spirituality in healthy young adults helps to build the framework to ask questions about what may be occurring for those with life-threatening illness.


Spirituality; life-threatening illness; spiritual development; young adult

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