Promoting Excellence : ALS Executive Summary : Spirituality

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Recent reports suggest that addressing spiritual issues is beneficial for terminally ill patients and their caregivers.


Practice Recommendations

  • Address the spiritual needs of patients.
  • Establish an interdisciplinary team to enhance collaboration with chaplains, spiritual counselors and pastoral workers. Assess the spiritual needs of patients, caregivers and family members repeatedly as the disease progresses.
  • Recognize and accept the patient's spiritual and religious attitudes. Educate health care providers regarding cross-cultural religious differences in the approach to death and dying with the intent of improving management of end-of-life issues.

Research Recommendations

  • Improve methods and tools for assessing the spiritual needs of patients and caregivers.
  • Study the impact of managing spiritual needs on quality of life and longevity of patients, and on the patient-physician relationship.
  • Examine spiritual needs of different patient populations (e.g., ALS versus cancer) and different ethnic/religious backgrounds to improve specific spiritual care for different populations of patients.

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Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care was a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation dedicated to long-term changes in health care institutions to substantially improve care for dying people and their families. Visit PromotingExcellence.org for more resources.

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