Efficacy of short-term life-review interviews on the spiritual well-being of terminally ill cancer patients

Michiyo Ando, Tatsuya Morita, Tatsuo Akechi, Takuya Okamoto
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 2010, 39 (6): 993-1002

CONTEXT: There is a little information about effective psychotherapies to enhance the spiritual well-being of terminally ill cancer patients.

OBJECTIVES: The primary aim of the study was to examine the efficacy of a one-week Short-Term Life Review for the enhancement of spiritual well-being, using a randomized controlled trial. The secondary aim was to assess the effect of this therapy on anxiety and depression, suffering, and elements of a good death.

METHODS: The subjects were 68 terminally ill cancer patients randomly allocated to a Short-Term Life-Review interview group or a control group. The patients completed questionnaires pre- and post-treatment, including the meaning of life domain from the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual (FACIT-Sp) scale, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), a numeric scale for psychological suffering, and items from the Good Death Inventory (Hope, Burden, Life Completion, and Preparation).

RESULTS: The FACIT-Sp, Hope, Life Completion, and Preparation scores in the intervention group showed significantly greater improvement compared with those of the control group (FACIT-Sp, P<0.001; Hope, P<0.001; Life Completion, P<0.001; and Preparation, P<0.001). HADS, Burden, and Suffering scores in the intervention group also had suggested greater alleviation of suffering compared with the control group (HADS, P<0.001; Burden, P<0.007; Suffering, P<0.001).

CONCLUSION: We conclude that the Short-Term Life Review is effective in improving the spiritual well-being of terminally ill cancer patients, and alleviating psychosocial distress and promoting a good death.

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