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Support for using five attributes to describe spirituality among families with a parent in hospice

Journal title
Palliative & supportive care
Publication year
Stephenson, P. S.; Sheehan, D.; Shahrour, G.

OBJECTIVE: The importance of spirituality in the dying process is well documented. However, what spirituality means in these situations is hard to discern because few people (patients, families, researchers, or caregivers) will view spirituality in the same way. The present research supports the use of a spiritual framework consisting of five common attributes (meaning, beliefs, connections, self-transcendence, and value) as a mechanism for viewing spirituality for people nearing the end of life. Using qualitative interviews from two related studies, our study aims to describe the prevalence of spirituality and its nature according to these five spiritual attributes. METHODS: Data from two previous studies were analyzed. The first employed the methods of grounded theory to understand the strategies adolescents used to manage the impending death of a parent. Some 61 participants from 26 families were interviewed, including ill parents/patients, well parents/caregivers, and adolescents. The second study consisted of 15 interviews with the surviving parent and adolescents from 6 of these families after the death of the parent. RESULTS: The original research from which these data were drawn did not seek to describe spirituality. However, spiritual themes were prevalent in the stories of many participants and included each of the five spiritual attributes. SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Our findings demonstrate the prevalence of spirituality in the everyday lives of these families and supports the use of the spiritual framework according to the five common attributes to describe spirituality.

Research abstracts