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The Effects of Spiritual Interventions in Patients With Cancer: A Meta-Analysis

Pok-Ja Oh
Soo Hyun Kim
ONF 2014, 41(5), E290-E301 DOI: 10.1188/14.ONF.E290-E301

Purpose/Objectives: To evaluate the effects of a spiritual intervention in patients with cancer.

Data Sources: Databases searched included both international electronic databases (MEDLINE® via PubMed, Cochrane Library CENTRAL, EMBASE, and CINAHL®) as well as Korean electronic databases (KMBASE, KOREAMED, RISS, KISS, and NANET) through December 2013.

Data Synthesis: A meta-analysis was conducted of 15 studies involving 14 controlled trials (7 randomized and 7 nonrandomized) with 889 patients with cancer. Spiritual interventions were compared with a usual care control group or other psychosocial interventions. The weighted average effect size across studies was -0.48 (p = 0.006, I2 = 65%) for spiritual well-being, -0.58 (p = 0.02, I2 = 70%) for meaning of life, -0.87 (p = 0.02, I2 = 87%) for anxiety, and -0.62 (p = 0.001, I2 = 73%) for depression.

Conclusions: The findings showed that spiritual interventions had significant but moderate effects on spiritual well-being, meaning of life, and depression. However, the evidence remains weak because of the mixed study design and substantial heterogeneity.

Implications for Nursing: Oncology nurses increasingly recognize the significance of the spiritual domain of care. The current study indicates that facilitating spiritual awareness and needs may be a worthwhile nursing intervention for patients with cancer.

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