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

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2010 Jun;39(6):993-1002. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2009.11.320.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Spirituality*
  • Terminal Care / psychology
  • Terminally Ill / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome