Spiritual care in palliative care: a systematic review of the recent European literature

Marie-José Gijsberts, Anke Liefbroer, René Otten, E. Olsman

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Many studies on spiritual care in palliative care are performed in the US, leaving other continents unexplored. The objective of this systematic review is to map the recent studies on spiritual care in palliative care in Europe. PubMed, CINAHL, ATLA, PsycINFO, ERIC, IBSS, Web of Science, EMBASE, and other databases were searched. Included were European studies published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2015, 2016, or 2017. The characteristics of the included studies were analyzed and a narrative synthesis of the extracted data was performed. 53 articles were included. Spiritual care was seen as attention for spirituality, presence, empowerment, and bringing peace. It implied creative, narrative, and ritual work. Though several studies reported positive effects of spiritual care, like the easing of discomfort, the evidence for spiritual care is low. Requirements for implementation of spiritual care in (palliative) care were: Developing spiritual competency, including self-reflection, and visibility of spirituality and spiritual care, which are required from spiritual counselors that they participated in existing organizational structures. This study has provided insight into spiritual care in palliative care in Europe. Future studies are necessary to develop appropriate patient outcomes and to investigate the effects of spiritual care more fully.
Original languageEnglish
Article number25
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalMedical Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2019

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