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Spirituality in Cancer Care at the End of Life

Ferrell, Betty PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN, CHPN; Otis-Green, Shirley MSW, ACSW, LCSW, OSW-C; Economou, Denice MN, RN, CHPN

doi: 10.1097/PPO.0b013e3182a5baa5

There is a compelling need to integrate spirituality into the provision of quality palliative care by oncology professionals. Patients and families report the importance of spiritual, existential, and religious concerns throughout the cancer trajectory. Leading palliative care organizations have developed guidelines that define spiritual care and offer recommendations to guide the delivery of spiritual services. There is growing recognition that all team members require the skills to provide generalist spiritual support. Attention to person-centered, family-focused oncology care requires the development of a health care environment that is prepared to support the religious, spiritual, and cultural practices preferred by patients and their families. These existential concerns become especially critical at end of life and following the death for family survivors. Oncology professionals require education to prepare them to appropriately screen, assess, refer, and/or intervene for spiritual distress.

From the City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Reprints: Betty Ferrell, PhD, MA, FAAN, FPCN, CHPN, City of Hope National Medical Center, Division of Nursing Research and Education, 1500 E Duarte Rd, Duarte, CA 91010. E-mail:

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins