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Letter to the Editor

Spirituality in Medicine: Approach to End of Life Care in the Cancer Intensive Care Unit Setting

Mariana Mogos, MD, Rodney McKeever, MD, Crisanjali Rajaratnam, MD, Duraiyah Thangathurai, MD, PhD
Volume: 104 Issue: 11 November, 2011

Abstract:

To the Editor:


It is well recognized that many patients go through extreme suffering during their final days of life.1 In the last two decades both the medical community and patients have become increasingly aware of the importance of spiritual care during terminal illness in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting.2 While modern medicine has made advances in biotechnology, surgical techniques, and pharmacotherapy, this progress has not made significant contributions to the spiritual care of the terminally ill patients. In fact, it can be argued that some of these techniques have contributed to the prolongation of the dying process and may even result in more pain, anxiety and suffering.3 Many studies and surveys indicate that spirituality offers much to patients and their families in terms of providing hope and direction. The Gallup Poll confirms that 86% of Americans strongly feel that religion plays an important role in their lives.4 Various religions and spiritual traditions espouse dogmas and rituals in order to minimize suffering in the terminally ill patients.

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References:

1. Ventafridda V, Ripamonti C, Tamburini M, et al. Unendurable symptoms as prognostic indicator of impending death in terminal cancer patients. Eur J Cancer 1990;26:1000-1001.
 
2. Astrow A, Puchalski C, Sulmasy D. Religion, spirituality and health care: social, ethical, and practical considerations. Am J Med 2001;353:664-667.
 
3. Puchalski CM. Spirituality and end-of-life care: a time for listening and caring. J Palliat Med 2000;5:289-295.
 
4. Gallup G. The Gallup Poll: Public opinion 1993. Wilmington, DE, Scholarly Resources, 1994.

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