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Spirituality in Cancer Care (PDQ®): Supportive care - Patient Information [NCI] - Meeting the Patient's Spiritual and Religious Needs

To help patients with spiritual needs during cancer care, medical staff will listen to the wishes of the patient.

Spirituality and religion are very personal issues. Patients should expect doctors and caregivers to respect their religious and spiritual beliefs and concerns. Patients with cancer who rely on spirituality to cope with the disease should be able to count on the health care team to give them support. This may include giving patients information about people or groups that can help with spiritual or religious needs. Most hospitals have chaplains, but not all outpatient settings do. Patients who do not want to discuss spirituality during cancer care should also be able to count on the health care team to respect their wishes.

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Doctors and caregivers will try to respond to their patients' concerns, but may not take part in patients' religious practices or discuss specific religious beliefs.

The health care team will help with a patient's spiritual needs when setting goals and planning treatment.

The health care team may help with a patient's spiritual needs in the following ways:

  • Suggest goals and options for care that honor the patient's spiritual and/or religious views.
  • Support the patient's use of spiritual coping during the illness.
  • Encourage the patient to speak with his/her religious or spiritual leader.
  • Refer the patient to a hospital chaplain or support group that can help with spiritual issues during illness.
  • Refer the patient to other therapies that have been shown to increase spiritual well-being. These include mindfulness relaxation, such as yoga or meditation, or creative arts programs, such as writing, drawing, or music therapy.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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