Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Spiritual Perspectives on Pain in Advanced Breast Cancer: A Scoping Review

OBJECTIVES: The aim of the present review was to characterize how pain and spirituality have been conceptualized, assessed, and addressed and how these concepts may be related among women with advanced breast cancer. DESIGN: A scoping review was conducted including publications of various methodologies. DATA SOURCES: Searches were conducted in PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, OpenGrey, OAIster, and a large university library database (published 2006-2018). REVIEW/ANALYSIS METHODS: Research questions and criteria were formulated at the outset, followed by identification of publications, charting data, and collating results. RESULTS: Forty-two publications met the inclusion criteria. Most (n = 33) focused exclusively on pain, five pain and spirituality, and four exclusively spirituality. Conceptual definitions were not explicitly provided but were implied. Most assessments used the 0-10 Numeric Rating Scale (pain) and qualitative methods (spirituality). Pain management primarily focused on radiotherapy and pharmaceuticals, and two publications identified spiritual interventions. No publications directly examined the impact of spirituality on pain. Findings of qualitative studies including both concepts suggest the potential value of spirituality as a mechanism to cope with pain. CONCLUSIONS: This review identified significant unmanaged pain in women with advanced breast cancer. Women identified dimensions of spirituality as important for coping with their disease. A gap in understanding spirituality and its potential influence on pain in this population was identified.