Spiritual care is an important part of healthcare, especially when facing the crisis of advanced cancer. Do oncology inpatients receive spiritual care consistent with their needs? When inconsistent, are there deleterious effects on patient outcomes?
Patients with advanced cancer (N = 150) were surveyed during their inpatient stay at a southeastern medical center using validated instruments documenting spirituality, quality of life, mood, and satisfaction with care. Relationships between the receipt of less spiritual care than desired and patient outcomes were examined.
Almost all patients had spiritual needs (91%) and the majority desired and received spiritual care from their healthcare providers (67%; 68%), religious community (78%; 73%), and hospital chaplain (45%; 36%). However, a significant subset received less spiritual care than desired from their healthcare providers (17%), religious community (11%), and chaplain (40%); in absolute terms, the number who received less care than desired from one or more sources was substantial (42 of 150). Attention to spiritual care would improve satisfaction with care while hospitalized for 35% of patients. Patients who received less spiritual care than desired reported more depressive symptoms [adjusted β (SE) = 1.2 (0.47), p = 0.013] and less meaning and peace [adjusted β (SE) = −2.37 (1.15), p = 0.042].
A substantial minority of patients did not receive the spiritual care they desired while hospitalized. When spiritual needs are not met, patients are at risk of depression and reduced sense of spiritual meaning and peace. Spiritual care should be matched to cancer patients’ needs.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.