John Fisher & David Brumley



JSS 2.1

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JSS 2.1 Palliative Care Doctors Need Help with Spiritual Wellbeing

by Dr John W. Fisher & Dr David Brumley, Rural Health Academic Centre, Faculty of Medicine,
University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Journal for the Study of Spirituality 2, no. 1, 2012, pp. 49-60

Spirituality is widely recognized as a key component of holistic care for palliative care patients. Are palliative care doctors able to include this in their role or should it be done by others? A survey of 300 palliative care doctors in Australia and New Zealand yielded a 52 per cent response rate, providing insight into their ideals, lived experiences and perceptions of help for patients, in four domains of spiritual wellbeing, assessed using the Spiritual Health And Life-Orientation Measure (SHALOM). Male palliative care doctors provided levels of help commensurate with their lived experience in two domains of spiritual wellbeing. Greater professional distancing of female palliative care doctors resulted in their perception of less holistic care being provided for patients. Palliative care doctors do not have adequate time, experience or training to provide all aspects of spiritual care, especially with regard to the relationship with God. Patients need holistic care provided by comprehensive, well-balanced teams. In brief, palliative care doctors need help personally and in providing spiritual care for patients.

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