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The Degree to Which Spiritual Needs of Patients Near the End of Life Are Met

Carla P. Hermann
ONF 2007, 34(1), 70-78 DOI: 10.1188/07.ONF.70-78

Purpose/Objectives: To determine to what degree the spiritual needs of patients near the end of life are met.

Design: Descriptive.

Setting: One inpatient and five outpatient hospices.

Sample: 62 female and 38 male hospice patients with a mean age of 67 years; 74% were dying from cancer.

Methods: Each subject completed the Spiritual Needs Inventory and rated life satisfaction via the Cantril ladder.

Main Research Variables: Spiritual needs and life satisfaction.

Findings: Women, patients residing in a nursing home or an inpatient hospice unit, and patients with lower levels of education reported a higher number of unmet spiritual needs. Needs that could be met independently by patients and were not related to functional status were met at a higher rate than those that were dependent on others and on functional status.

Conclusions: Spiritual activities are important to patients who are near the end of life, but these patients may have a variety of unmet spiritual needs that depend on many factors, including the care setting.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses must recognize the importance of spirituality to patients near the end of life. Assessment for specific spiritual needs can lead to the development of interventions to meet those needs. Meeting patients' spiritual needs can enhance their quality of life.

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