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SPIRITUAL ISSUES AND QUALITY OF LIFE ASSESSMENT IN CANCER CARE

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Being diagnosed with cancer forces most human beings to face their own death. The comfortable sense of both invulnerability and immortality is shattered, making the patient thoroughly aware that life is finite and limited. Approaching death, cancer patients commonly embark on an inner journey involving a search for meaning as well as a reordering of priorities involving physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs. Although interest in the role of spirituality, relating to both adjustment to cancer and the overall quality of life of cancer patients, has increased in recent years, most of the commonly used quality of life (QOL) instruments in oncology typically do not include spiritual issues. In this article, it is argued that assessing QOL effectively should involve all aspects of the personality, including mind, body, and spirit as well. This article also reviews recent studies, which have shown that spiritual well-being, although a many-sided and difficult construct to define, is closely related to the QOL of cancer patients. It is also suggested that further research is needed to understand how the new focus on spirituality can contribute to a more comprehensive assessment of patient's QOL in cancer care.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2002

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