A conceptual analysis of spirituality at the end of life

Vachon, M., Fillion, L., & Achille, M. (2009). Journal of Palliative Medicine, 12(1), 53-59.


Abstract. The definition of spirituality is the subject of endless debates in the empirical literature. This content analysis sought to: (1) exhaustively review the empirical literature on end-of-life spirituality to extract definitional elements of this concept and (2) elaborate on these definitional elements to create an integrative and inclusive definition of end-of-life spirituality based on the items retrieved. A search of the literature on spirituality published in the last 10 years was conducted via the the PsychINFO and MEDLINE databases. Seventy-one articles were selected based on specific inclusion criteria. A qualitative thematic analysis yielded 11 dimensions for the concept of end-of-life spirituality, namely: (1) meaning and purpose in life, (2) self-transcendence, (3) transcendence with a higher being, (4) feelings of communion and mutuality, (5) beliefs and faith, (6) hope, (7) attitude toward death, (8) appreciation of life, (9) reflection upon fundamental values, (10) the developmental nature of spirituality, and (11) its conscious aspect. The definition derived from this concept analysis, after being tested empirically, may be useful in informing the development of new measures of spirituality and new protocols to assess spirituality in clinical settings.


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