Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 306--311

Signs of spiritual distress and its implications for practice in Indian Palliative Care

1 Department of Onco.anesthesia and Palliative Medicine, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Center for Healthcare Ethics, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282, USA
3 Center for Healthcare Ethics, Institute of Cancer and Genetics, Cardiff University School of Medicine, Cardiff, CF14 4YS, UK
4 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Joris Gielen
Center for Healthcare Ethics, 301A, Fisher Hall, 600, Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15282
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPC.IJPC_24_17

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Introduction: Given the particularity of spirituality in the Indian context, models and tools for spiritual care that have been developed in Western countries may not be applicable to Indian palliative care patients. Therefore, we intended to describe the most common signs of spiritual distress in Indian palliative care patients, assess differences between male and female participants, and formulate contextually appropriate recommendations for spiritual care based on this data. Methods: Data from 300 adult cancer patients who had completed a questionnaire with 36 spirituality items were analyzed. We calculated frequencies and percentages, and we compared responses of male and female participants using Chi-squared tests. Results: Most participants believed in God or a higher power who somehow supports them. Signs of potential spiritual distress were evident in the participants' strong agreement with existential explanations of suffering that directly or indirectly put the blame for the illness on the patient, the persistence of the “Why meY” question, and feelings of unfairness and anger. Women were more likely to consider illness their fate, be worried about the future of their children or spouse and be angry about what was happening to them. They were less likely than men to blame themselves for their illness. The observations on spirituality enabled us to formulate recommendations for spiritual history taking in Indian palliative care. Conclusion: Our recommendations may help clinicians to provide appropriate spiritual care based on the latest evidence on spirituality in Indian palliative care. Unfortunately, this evidence is limited and more research is required.


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