Spirituality and Uncertainty at the End of Life

Pam Stephenson

Devon M. Berry

spirituality, religiousness, end-of-life
ONF 2013, 41(1), 33-39. DOI: 10.1188/14.ONF.33-39

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the theoretical congruency between uncertainty and spirituality at the end of life (EOL).

Data Sources: Relevant empirical and theoretical articles using the key words spirituality, uncertainty, terminal illness, and similar derivatives were drawn from the databases of CINAHL®, MEDLINE®, PsycINFO, and SocINDEX.

Data Synthesis: Spirituality and uncertainty were compared for theoretical congruency based on five general categories: prevalence, temporality, interpretation, quality, and directionality. The categories were drawn from the uncertainty literature and looked at the ability of spirituality and uncertainty to contribute to or detract from health.

Conclusions: This article presents an innovative way of viewing how spirituality is experienced at the EOL. The likelihood that uncertainty and spirituality can coexist as a simultaneous and even blended construct that influences the EOL is supported and warrants additional exploration.

Implications for Nursing: Health professionals must recognize the prevalence of spiritual uncertainty in the lives of their patients and understand the need to frequently assess for spiritual uncertainty. Specific recommendations are provided to guide professionals in addressing spiritual uncertainty with patients.

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