EhmanDidyou know…? Patients often draw upon spiritual/religious resources asthey cope with illness and treatment. This may be of particular importance in circumstancesof palliative care. A growing body of research links spiritual care withpatient satisfaction, quality-of-life, and medical decision-making that canavoid extraordinary and costly interventions at the end of life [Cancer 117(23):5383-91].Moreover, research indicates that patients tend to welcome a carefully wordedinquiry about whether their spiritual/religious beliefs may affect their healthcare decisions. One of the most widely cited studies on this topic wasconducted here at Penn [Arch Int Med 159(15):1803-6]. Nearly half of thepatients queried in the study said their beliefs would influence theirdecisions if they were gravely ill, and two-thirds said that an inquiry fromtheir provider would increase their trust in him/her.

While it isdifficult to predict what spiritual/religious needs any one patient may have,special attention should be paid to expressions of spiritual distress, requeststo contact the patient’s own religious group for ritual and pastoral support,concerns about modesty, and apprehensions about food and medications that couldviolate dietary and other rules of a faith tradition.

For moreinformation, call PPMC’s Pastoral Care Department at x9490.

-Submittedby Rev. John W. Ehman MDiv,Chief Chaplain, PPMC Pastoral Care

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