Correlates of spiritual well-being in terminally III persons with AIDS and terminally III persons with cancer

James C. Pace

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In an effort to determine If terminally ill patients with AIDS had greater religious and spiritual care needs than other terminally ill patient populations, particularly those with cancer, a study was conducted in a community-based hospice in the southeast. The purpose of the study was to compare the perceptions of spiritual well-being, loneliness, social support, health hardiness, pain, and functional status among terminally ill clients with cancer and terminally ill clients with AIDS in a hospice setting and to examine predictors of spiritual well-being in a hospice population. A sample of 55 hospice patients completed the Correlates of Spiritual Well-Being Scale (COSWEB), which includes a demographic data sheet and instruments to measure spiritual well-being, loneliness, health hardiness, social support, functional status, and pain. Patients with AIDS reported significantly lower spiritual well-being than did patients with cancer and other chronic, terminal illnesses. Patients with AIDS also reported significantly greater loneliness than other patient populations. The number of social supports for patients with AIDS was significantly lower than for cancer patients and other groups; moreover, patients with AIDS were significantly more dissatisfied with their supports than other patient groups. The best predictors of spiritual well-being in this study were social support and loneliness, which explained 47% of the variance in spiritual well-being. The results of this study suggest differences between specific groups of hospice patients. Patients with AIDS may be less spiritually well than other terminally ill patient populations due to decreased support systems, dissatisfaction with supports, greater feelings of loneliness, younger ages on entry to hospice, fewer family supports, lack of recognized long-term relationships, and related issues such as homophobia, perceived rejection by religious denominations, unstable living environments, economic disadvantages, and less time to process life events/meaning. Findings in this study and similar future studies can better enable health care providers to allocate time and resources to various terminally ill patient populations to achieve higher quality care outcomes in general and greater spiritual well-being in particular.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997


  • AIDS
  • Hospice
  • Spiritual well-being
  • Terminally ill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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