A profound and moving spirituality provided emotional and psychological support for most terminally ill patients at Grady Memorial Hospital. The authors were able to trace the roots of these patients’ spirituality to core beliefs described by African-American theologians. Truly bedrock beliefs often reflected in conversations with the patients at Grady included the providence of God and the divine plan for each person’s life. Patients felt an intimate relationship to God, which they expressed through prayer. Importantly, almost all patients were willing to share their beliefs with the authors in long bedside interviews. This willingness to share indicates that physicians can learn about and validate such patients’ spiritual sources of support.
spirituality palliative care patient-doctor communication
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Torke AM, Garas NS, Sexson W, Branch WT Jr. Medical care at the end of life: views of African American patients in an urban hospital. J Pall Med. 2005;8:593–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cooper-Lewter N, Mitchell HH. Soul Theology: The Heart of American Black Culture. Nashville: Abington Press; 1991.Google Scholar
Crawley L, Payne R, Bolden J, et al. Palliative and end-of-life care in the African American community. JAMA. 2000;284:2518–21.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blackhall LJ, Frank G, Murphy ST, Michel V, Palmer JM, Azen SP. Ethnicity and attitudes towards life sustaining technology. Soc Sci Med. 1999;48:1779–89.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
McKinley ED, Garrett JM, Evans AT, Danis M. Differences in end-of-life decision making among black and white ambulatory cancer patients. J Gen Intern Med. 1996;11:651–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Phipps E, True G, Harris D, et al. Approaching the end of life: attitudes, preferences, and behaviors of African-American and white patients and their family caregivers. J Clin Oncol. 2003;21:549–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hopp FP, Duffy SA. Racial variations in end-of-life care. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2000;48:658–63.PubMedGoogle Scholar
Thurman H. Deep is the Hunger. Richmond: Friends United Press; 1978.Google Scholar
Torke AM, Corbie-Smith GM, Branch WT Jr. African American patients’ perspectives on medical decision making. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:525–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lo B, Quill T, Tulsky J. Discussing palliative care with patients. ACP-ASIM End-of-Life Care Consensus Panel. American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine. Ann Intern Med. 1999;130:744–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar