Addressing a Patient's Hope for a Miracle

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2018 Feb;55(2):535-539. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2017.10.002. Epub 2017 Oct 10.


Ill patients may make decisions to continue aggressive life-prolonging care based on hope for a miraculous recovery, and clinicians can find goals of care discussions with these patients extremely challenging. Thus, palliative care providers may be asked to help in these discussions. The concept of "miracle" can express a multitude of hopes, fears, and religious commitments. Effective, sensitive engagement requires the palliative care provider to attend to these variegated hopes, fears, and commitments. This case presents a typology of ways patients express hope for a miracle along with analysis of the motivations and beliefs underlying such hopes and suggestions for tailored responses by palliative care providers.

Keywords: end of life; miracle; palliative care; religion; spirituality; terminal care.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning
  • Female
  • Health Communication*
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Hope*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Terminal Care / methods
  • Terminal Care / psychology