Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 272–280 | Cite as

Spirituality and meaning in supportive care: spirituality- and meaning-centered group psychotherapy interventions in advanced cancer

  • William Breitbart
Review Article


Existential and spiritual issues are at the frontier of new clinical and research focus in palliative and supportive care of cancer patients. As concepts of adequate supportive care expand beyond a focus on pain and physical symptom control, existential and spiritual issues such as meaning, hope and spirituality in general have received increased attention from supportive care clinicians and clinical researchers. This paper reviews the topics of spirituality and end-of-life care, defines spirituality, and suggests measures of spirituality that deal with two of its main components: faith/religious beliefs and meaning/spiritual well-being. These two constructs of spirituality are reviewed in terms of their role in supportive care. Finally, a review of existing psychotherapeutic interventions for spiritual suffering are reviewed and a novel meaning-centered group psychotherapy for advanced cancer patients is described.

Cancer Meaning Spirituality Psychotherapy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Breitbart
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychiatry Service, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, Box 421, New York, NY 10021USA

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