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Relationship With God, Loneliness, Anger, and Symptom Distress in Patients With Cancer Who Are Near the End of Life

Scott, Linda Olson MDiv; Law, Johnathon M. MDiv, MBA; Brodeur, Daniel P. MDiv; Salerno, Christopher A. MDiv; Thomas, Anzette MDiv; McMillan, Susan C. PhD, ARNP, FAAN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: December 2014 - Volume 16 - Issue 8 - p 482–488
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000105
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The study purpose was to explore relationship with God, symptom distress, and feelings of anger and loneliness in hospice patients with cancer. Three hundred fifty-four hospice patients completed the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale and Hospice Quality of Life Index. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and correlations. Scores on satisfaction with relationship with God were very high (mean, 9.2 on a 0- to 10-point scale). We found weak, significant relationships between relationship with God and anger (r = 0.28; P = .000), loneliness (r = 0.25; P = .000), and symptom distress (r = 0.23, P = .000). If patients felt that they did not have a good relationship with God, they were more likely to feel anger. Patients who had a better relationship with God felt less lonely, which might suggest that religion was more than a set of beliefs but was a source of comfort, care, and support. Patients who perceived a satisfactory relationship with God reported less symptom distress. Patients appeared to be able to maintain their relationships with God. However, they still had other problems such as anger, loneliness, and symptom distress that are associated with their God relationship and that deserve attention. Thus, the interdisciplinary team, which includes chaplains, is critical and should remain the standard.

Linda Olson Scott, MDiv, is chaplain resident, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, Florida.

Johnathon M. Law, MDiv, MBA, is chaplain resident, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, Florida.

Daniel P. Brodeur, MDiv, is chaplain resident, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, Florida.

Christopher A. Salerno, MDiv, is chaplain resident, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, Florida.

Anzette Thomas, MDiv, is chaplain resident, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, Florida.

Susan C. McMillan, PhD, ARNP, FAAN, is distinguished university professor and Thompson Professor of Oncology Nursing, College of Nursing, University of South Florida, Tampa.

Address correspondence to Susan C. McMillan, PhD, ARNP, FAAN, College of Nursing, University of South Florida, 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, MDC 22, Tampa, FL (smcmilla@health.usf.edu).

The authors acknowledge the National Institutes of Health for its support (1R01CA77307) of this project.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2014 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.