Spirituality in Cancer Care (PDQ®): Supportive care - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Issues to Consider

Although a considerable number of anecdotal accounts suggest that prayer, meditation, imagery, or other religious activity can have healing power, the empirical evidence is extremely limited and by no means consistent.[1] On the basis of current evidence, it is questionable whether any patient with cancer should be encouraged to seek such resources as a means to healing or to limiting the physical effects of disease. However, the psychological value of support and spiritual well-being is increasingly well documented, and evidence that spiritual distress can have a negative impact on health is growing. Therefore, in exploring these issues with patients or encouraging the use of such resources, health care providers need to frame these resources in terms of self-understanding, clarifying questions of beliefs with an appropriate spiritual or religious leader, or seeking a sense of inner peace or awareness.


  1. Sloan RP, Bagiella E: Claims about religious involvement and health outcomes. Ann Behav Med 24 (1): 14-21, 2002 Winter.
WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute
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