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Spiritual issues in palliative care consultations in the Netherlands

Publication year
Kuin, A.; Deliens, L.; van Zuylen, L.; Courtens, A. M.; Vernooij-Dassen, M. J.; van der Linden, B.; van der Wal, G.

INTRODUCTION: In the Netherlands, healthcare professionals are able to consult Palliative Care Consultation (PCC) teams about individual patients, for information, support and advice. This study aims to understand which spiritual issues are discussed in these consultations and to determine which factors influence whether they are raised or not. METHODS: The national register of the consultations of the PCC teams was analysed for a two-year period. RESULTS: Spiritual issues played a role in 8.4% of palliative care consultations, of which 4.1% were by phone and 18.3% were bedside consultations. Often spiritual issues were raised by the consultant during the exploration of the request from the caregiver; the discipline of the consultant rather than the discipline of the requesting professional or the patient characteristics determined whether or not such issues were raised. The main support given by the consultant was in coaching the professional caregiver on how to address these issues. DISCUSSION: This study demonstrates the important role of PCC team consultants in exploring and identifying the spiritual needs of patients about whom they are consulted. Although continued education in spiritual care for palliative care professionals is essential, PCC team consultants will play an important role in drawing the attention of healthcare professionals to the need to recognize and address the spiritual needs of their patients.

Research abstracts