Spiritual Care

A Chaplain-led Spiritual Life Review Pilot Study for Patients with Brain Cancers and Other Degenerative Neurologic Diseases

Katherine M. Piderman, Carmen Radecki Breitkopf, Sarah M. Jenkins, Terin T. Euerle, Laura A. Lovejoy, Gracia M. Kwete, and Aminah Jatoi


Objective: This pilot study was designed to describe changes in spiritual well-being (SWB), spiritual coping, and quality of life (QOL) in patients with brain cancer or other neurodegenerative diseases participating in a chaplain-led spiritual life review interview and development of a spiritual legacy document (SLD). Methods: Eligible participants were enrolled and completed baseline questionnaires. They were interviewed by a board-certified chaplain about spiritual influences, beliefs, practices, values, and spiritual struggles. An SLD was prepared for each participant, and one month follow-up questionnaires were completed. Two cases are summarized, and spiritual development themes are illustrated within a spiritual development framework. Results: A total of 27 patients completed baseline questionnaires and the interview; 24 completed the SLD, and 15 completed the follow-up questionnaire. Increases in SWB, religious coping, and QOL were detected. The majority maintained the highest (best) scores of negative religious coping, demonstrating minimal spiritual struggle. Conclusions: Despite the challenges of brain cancers and other neurodegenerative diseases, participants demonstrated improvements in SWB, positive religious coping, and QOL. Patient comments indicate that benefit is related to the opportunity to reflect on and integrate spiritual experiences and to preserve them for others. Research with a larger, more diverse sample is needed, as well as clinical applications for those too vulnerable to participate in longitudinal follow-up.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2015;6(2):e0015