Screening the soul: communication regarding spiritual concerns among primary care physicians and seriously ill patients approaching the end of life

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. Jan-Feb 2006;23(1):25-33. doi: 10.1177/104990910602300105.


The purpose of this study was to explore the spiritual concerns of seriously ill patients and the spiritual-care practices of primary care physicians (PCPs). Questionnaires were administered to outpatients (n=65, 90 percent response rate) with end-stage illness and to PCPs (n=67, 87 percent response rate) in a diverse general medicine practice. Most patients (62 percent) and PCPs (68 percent) considered it important that physicians attend to patients 'spiritual concerns. However, few patients reported receiving such care, and most (62 percent) did not think it was the PCP's job to talk about spiritual concerns. Although both seriously ill outpatients and PCPs assert the importance of spiritual concerns, PCPs often do not provide spiritual care. Appropriate provision of spiritual care within a diverse population of seriously ill outpatients is complex, necessitating appropriate and attentive screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Family* / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life
  • Spirituality*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminally Ill* / statistics & numerical data