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Spiritual care in cancer patients: a need or an option?

Ripamonti, Carla, I.a; Giuntoli, Federicob; Gonella, Silviac; Miccinesi, Guidod

doi: 10.1097/CCO.0000000000000454
SUPPORTIVE CARE: Edited by Jean A. Klastersky

Purpose of review 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.

Recent findings 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.

Summary 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:

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