Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Beba Tata on Life Review

Transforming Chaplaincy welcomes guest commentator Beba Tata, MDiv, MS, BCC, who is a Transforming Chaplaincy fellow and chaplain at Mayo Clinic. We thank Beba for her insight today and encourage chaplains and researchers – even those not working directly in palliative or end-of-life care – to explore the article. For this Idea in Brief, Tata comments on Kwan CWM, Ng MSN, Chan CWH, “The use of life review to enhance spiritual well-being in patients with terminal illness: an integrative review,” Journal of Clinical Nursing 26 nos. 23-24 (December 2017):

Kwan et al., explore the concept of life review as an intervention to address the spiritual need of patients with terminal illnesses. The paper provides a working definition of life review and its benefits to reduce spiritual distress and improve quality of life in palliative care patients, and also clarifies the difference between life review and reminiscence (with which it is often confused). They examine and compare the characteristics of three life review interventions and find that the shorter and more concise the life review intervention, the more suitable it will be for terminally ill patients, whose life expectancy is very limited. Noting that the life review process is prompted by the realization of approaching death, the authors show that life review is not only important for older people but beneficial to patients with terminal illnesses who are not necessarily old but nonetheless are approaching the end of life. The sense of vulnerability and approaching death in terminally ill patients would prompt them to start reviewing past life experiences. Findings show that life review has demonstrated a value as one of the major coping strategies used by patients with terminal illness. As valuable as life review is to improve quality of life in terminally ill patients, there is need for a greater understanding of its effectiveness and applicability in different settings. The article presents life review as a core component of spiritual care: holistic care of a patient cannot be complete without addressing the spiritual component. Chaplains will benefit from this article’s opportunities for engaging in the aspects of care that enhance patients’ emotional and spiritual wellbeing and quality of life. Chaplains can benefit from the descriptions of the life review process presented here in their day-to-day work as a way to assess its efficacy and effectiveness and also partner with interdisciplinary teams to assist patients find meaning during end of life.


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