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Demoralization and spirituality in oncology: an integrative systematic review

Supportive Care in Cancer Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Objective

To synthesize the scientific findings on demoralization and spirituality in the oncology context.

Methods

This is an integrative systematic review, in line with the PRISMA 2020 guidelines, as proposed by Whittemore and Knalf (2005). The MEDLINE via PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, APA PsycNet, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, and LILACS databases were searched without limitations regarding language or year of publication. The studies were screened for inclusion according to the predefined eligibility criteria. Data extraction and evidence quality assessment were performed.

Results

Out of the 1587 articles evaluated, 10 studies were included in this review. In general, it was found that demoralization tends to increase with the proximity of death and seems to be inversely related to spirituality, with spiritual well-being being a protective factor against demoralization, while the non-fulfillment of spiritual needs is related to increased demoralization in people with cancer. Furthermore, even among caregivers of people with advanced cancer, demoralization seems to be associated, among other factors, with spiritual suffering. These results should be analyzed with caution, considering that the studies included in this review are all observational studies, which prevents establishing cause and effect relationships.

Conclusions

Demoralization tends to increase with growing frailty and the proximity of death in people with cancer, and it seems to be inversely related to spirituality, both in these patients and in their caregivers.

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Authors

Contributions

Ana Cláudia Mesquita Garcia: conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, interpretation, writing the original draft, writing, reviewing, editing, and supervision. Milena Schneiders and Karita Santos da Mota: methodology, database searching, and reviewing. Vander Monteiro da Conceição: methodology and reviewing. David W. Kissane: interpretation, reviewing, and editing.

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Correspondence to Ana Cláudia Mesquita Garcia.

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Garcia, A.C.M., Schneiders, M., da Mota, K.S. et al. Demoralization and spirituality in oncology: an integrative systematic review. Support Care Cancer 31, 259 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-023-07722-6

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