Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 3405–3412 | Cite as

Spiritual needs and their associated factors among cancer patients in China: a cross-sectional study

  • Qinqin Cheng
  • Xianghua Xu
  • Xiangyu Liu
  • Ting Mao
  • Yongyi Chen
Original Article



Spiritual needs are important for many patients with life-limiting illnesses. Knowledge of spiritual needs is a first step to their fulfillment; however, such knowledge is lacking for patients with cancer in mainland China. This study evaluated spiritual needs among patients with cancer in China and analyzed their associations with demographic and clinical characteristics.


A descriptive, cross-sectional study was performed. A general information questionnaire and a Chinese version of the Spiritual Needs Scale were used to collect information about patients with cancer. A total of 200 participants were recruited, and 182 completed the survey.


The overall average spiritual needs score was 3.15. Of five dimensions investigated, the highest and lowest scores were for “hope and peace” (mean = 3.31) and “relationship with transcendence” (mean = 2.96). Of specific needs, “to be accepted,” “to take responsibility for my life,” and “to alleviate my suffering” (means = 3.36–3.38) were valued as most important by participants. “To talk to someone,” “to pray and participate in religious rituals and services,” and “to feel God with me during my struggle against disease” (means = 2.71–2.91) were considered least important. Participants’ spiritual needs differed significantly according to disease stage (p < 0.001), time since diagnosis (p = 0.002), and hospitalization frequency (p = 0.004).


The spiritual needs of patients with cancer should receive more attention in China. Effective assessment tools and procedures should be established to evaluate the spiritual needs of patients and formulate appropriate interventions at an early stage.


Cancer Oncology nursing Spirituality Factor analysis 



The contributions of the counselors and participants who took part in this study are highly appreciated.

Compliance with ethical standards

Approval was obtained from the ethics committee of the Hunan Cancer Hospital. Before data collection, all participants were informed of the purposes and potential benefits/risks of the research. Participation was completely voluntary. Informed consent forms were signed after consent was obtained.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pain Management Department, Hunan Cancer Hospital/The Affiliated Cancer Hospital of Xiangya School of MedicineCentral South UniversityChangshaPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Head and Neck Surgical DepartmentThe Affiliated Cancer Hospital of Xiangya School of Medicine, Central South University/Hunan Cancer HospitalChangshaPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Nursing DepartmentThe Affiliated Cancer Hospital of Xiangya School of Medicine, Central South University/Hunan Cancer HospitalChangshaPeople’s Republic of China

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