Addressing the religious and spiritual needs of dying patients by healthcare staff in Korea: patient perspectives in a multi-religious Asian country



Objective: We investigated how patients' spiritual and religious needs are addressed by healthcare staff in inpatient palliative care centers in Korea, a multi-religious country.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional, multicenter survey of terminal cancer patients in inpatient palliative care centers.

Results: Approximately half (50.5%) of the patients reported that their spiritual and religious needs were addressed by healthcare staff. Patients whose needs were addressed reported better quality of life (QoL), as measured using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality-of-Life Questionnaire for Palliative Care, than patients whose needs were not addressed (p<0.05), although these groups did not differ when measured using the Comprehensive QoL Scale. Patients with a religious affiliation [adjusted odds ratio (aOR), 2.38; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.70–8.05], those who were admitted to a religious palliative care center (aOR, 2.61; 95% CI, 0.86–7.96), and those whose religious affiliation was the same as that of the palliative care center (aOR, 2.42; 95% CI, 0.96–6.07) tended to have their spiritual and religious needs addressed, although not statistically significant.

Conclusions: Although patients whose spiritual and religious needs were addressed by healthcare staff showed significantly better QoL, such needs were not addressed in a significant proportion of patients, especially those who were not religious or were admitted to non-religious palliative care centers. Strategies should be developed to ensure that spiritual care is provided to all patients with terminal cancer, regardless of the religious background of the patient. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.