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The Psychological and Spiritual Dimensions of Palliative Care: A Descriptive Systematic Review

Author(s): Francisca Rego, Candida Pereira, Guilhermina Rego, Rui Nunes


Objective: To study the relationship between the psychological and spiritual dimensions in adult palliative care.

Methods: The data sources used were Medline, Web of Knowledge and Scopus, using the following key concepts: “palliative care” and “psychology” and “spirituality”. The search took place 5th December 2017, at 10:20 am, and no articles were excluded based on publication date. Out of a total of 1038 articles found, 65 met the pre-selected criteria and were included in the descriptive qualitative synthesis.

Results: Some lack of definitional consensus of spirituality is still evident. Nevertheless, spiritual wellbeing was considered an important component of quality of life, closely related to physical and psychological distress symptoms, therefore highlighting the importance of psychological and psychiatric care in enhancing the wellbeing of palliative care patients.

Conclusion: Understanding the interface of the psychological and spiritual dimensions of adult palliative care patients may contribute to a more efficient therapeutic practice. Therefore, training healthcare professionals to improve spiritual support and appropriately addressing these issues should be of great importance in palliative care settings, thus promoting an appropriate response to the patients’ needs and dying process.

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