Because of cancer is generally perceived as a life-threatening illness, patients often develop spiritual needs upon the diagnosis. Spirituality impacts patient quality of life (QoL) and provides a context in which to derive hope and meaning to cope with illness. The goal of this review is to give an overview of the most relevant studies with a focus on the relationship between spiritual well being, QoL and hope in patients with cancer, in addition to exploring the importance of spiritual issues both for patients and healthcare professionals.
Spiritual well being with its dimensions of faith, meaning, and peace is a central component for the overall QoL. A strong spiritual well being decreases symptom severity, the level of hopelessness and the desire for hastened death in cancer patients. However, in the medical setting the provision of spiritual care remains poor, although patients, especially at the end of life, would like their spiritual needs to be addressed as part of the global care.
Care for cancer patients goes beyond just caring for the person's body. The assessment of spiritual/religious needs can be considered the first step in designing needs-tailored interventions.
aDepartment Onco-Haematology, Fondazione IRCCS, Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan
bPontifical Biblical Institute, Rome
cAzienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Città della Salute e della Scienza di Torino, Turin
dCancer Research and Prevention Institute (ISPO), Florence, Italy
Correspondence to Silvia Gonella, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Città della Salute e della Scienza di Torino, Corso Bramante 88–90, 10126, Turin, Italy. Tel: +39 0110915831; fax: +39 0112365831; e-mail: email@example.com