Spiritual care for children with cancer

Semin Oncol Nurs. 1997 Nov;13(4):263-70. doi: 10.1016/s0749-2081(97)80023-x.


Objectives: To review literature pertinent to spirituality of children with cancer and to identify practical strategies for providing care for this dimension in children.

Data sources: Nursing research and literature about pediatric nursing care and spirituality; theoretical formulations of Piaget, Fowler, and Erikson.

Conclusion: Children diagnosed with cancer have unique spiritual needs that place them at risk for developing spiritual distress. With the diagnosis may come experiences of loss of normalcy, physical stamina, relationships, body image, and future goals. Spiritual care includes interventions that assist children to find meaning and purpose in life, to continue relationships, and to transcend beyond the self.

Implications for nursing practice: Spiritual care includes caregiver and child assessment and interventions appropriate to the developmental stages of infancy through adolescents. Tables outlining how this can be done by oncology nurses are included.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Holistic Nursing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / nursing
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Psychology, Child
  • Religion and Psychology*