Spiritual and religious issues and concerns are common and often intensified in patient’s who are nearing the end of their life. Patients frequently begin a journey in which they consider questions around their existence and the meaning of life and death. In order to optimize care and quality of life and provide respectful end-of life care, the Palliative Care Team needs to be equipped with the skills necessary to discuss and address patient’s spiritual or religious needs and concerns. In fact, assessment and support of spiritual and religious well-being and management of spiritual and religious problems are now considered to be core principles of professional practice and care at the end of life and patients have the right to expect that their spiritual experiences will be respected and listened to with attention.
Spirituality and religion are two distinct but overlapping entities. Spirituality is concerned with issues of purpose and meaning of life, and religion involves a structured belief system that addresses spiritual issues.