Religious/Spiritual Concerns in Caring For the Cancer Patient

  • James F. Bresnahan
  • John M. Merrill
Part of the Cancer Treatment and Research book series (CTAR, volume 140)


Often, medical care givers fail to fully attend to religious and spiritual concerns of patients and instead assign responsibility elsewhere. It is frequently thought of as somebody else’s job, such as that of the chaplain. Occasionally, a caregiver may take the initiative and inquire whether the patient would like to see one of the hospital’s pastoral care team or some other religious minister of the patient’s choice. But, given the secular and business-like milieu of medicine today, the religious and spiritual concerns of patients and their caregivers are often neglected as caregivers and patients focus on high technology diagnosis and treatment. Yet both patients and their caregivers bring the religious and moral convictions and commitments that have shaped their lives and actions to each clinical encounter.1 In a situation of serious illness or injury, patients confront a crisis of meaning; they become aware of actual or anticipated loss of function, and with that, intimations of their mortality. It is normal, then, that they begin to reflect on what this illness or injury means to them. They find they have needs for some form of sharing their reflections and for supporting these reflections. Patients will often look to the medical caregiver to satisfy these needs.


Therapeutic Alliance Moral Conviction Physician Assisted Suicide False Hope Realistic Hope 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • James F. Bresnahan
  • John M. Merrill

There are no affiliations available

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