Exploring the meaning of "Quality of Life" in relation to spiritual well-being

L. Romano1, A. Moretto1, R. Roffi1, T. Fusi-Schmidhauser1, C. Gamondi1 (1Bellinzona)


Spiritual care is recognised as a key issue in palliative and end-of-life care provision. The close and innermost relationship that is established between the chaplains and the patient is of utmost importance to create and strengthen a therapeutic relationship. According to the quality-of-life model proposed by Albers (2010), spiritual well-being that contributes to quality of life entails specific aspects. These aspects may be addressed by chaplains when they provide specific spiritual interventions.


To explore the determinants that patients referred as contributors to spiritual well-being in relation to quality of life as they emerged in conversations between patients and chaplains in acute hospital Palliative Care units.


A retrospective analysis of records reporting conversations between patients and chaplains that included patient’s reflections concerning quality of life and spiritual well-being. The records between January 2020 and April 2021 with patients hospitalized in the Palliative and Supportive Care hospital units were analysed. The conversations were conducted by three chaplains of the Clinic. A framework analysis was conducted, and key themes were identified according to Albers’s quality of life model.


Of the eight themes suggested by Albers' model, three have emerged as predominant in patients’ narratives concerning quality of life and spiritual well-being: the search for purpose, the search for meaning of life and the revision of one's life, as a process of re-enactment and re-evaluation.


Main components of discussions concerning quality of life perceptions and spiritual well-being referred by patients mostly regarded the meaning and purpose of life. Chaplains used mainly a narrative approach to collect patients’ feelings and emotions. Life revision was a predominant topic in these discussions, aimed at reducing the spiritual distress and enhance spiritual well-being of patients, an important domain for the perception of the quality of life.