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Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs. 2019 Apr-Jun;6(2):111-121. doi: 10.4103/apjon.apjon_62_18.

Patient Perspectives about Spirituality and Spiritual Care.

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Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



This study was undertaken to explore the perspectives regarding spirituality and spiritual care held by individuals with advanced disease. The aim was to gain a deeper understanding about their viewpoints surrounding spiritual care and the role of health-care professionals in providing such care.


Sixteen individuals with advanced disease and a prognosis of <12 months underwent an in-depth interview. Transcripts were subjected to a qualitative descriptive analysis to identify salient content and themes.


Four overall themes were identified: Spirituality is personal, spiritual distress is about separation, spiritual care is about connecting, and conversations about spirituality must align with the patient's beliefs. Subthemes emphasized the individuality of spiritual expression, the potential for illness impacting spiritual beliefs, and the value of connections to one's spiritual community. Participants thought healthcare providers needed to be able to identify individuals who were experiencing a spiritual struggle, acknowledge the reality of that struggle, and connect the individual with the appropriate resource or person.


Patients with advanced disease are likely to express their spirituality in unique ways. Being able to talk about their spiritual beliefs and doubts during illness without judgment was seen as a benefit to them. Healthcare providers ought to be able to identify those patients who require assistance in connecting to appropriate spiritual care resources.


Advanced disease; patient perspectives; spiritual care; spirituality

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