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Spiritual Dimension at the End of Life: A Phenomenological Study from the Caregiver’s Perspective

The lives of healthy and sick people are structured according to a variety of conceptual matrices. One of these matrixes consists of philosophical, spiritual, and religious convictions, being this especially relevant in the process of the end of life. The objective of the study is to understand the meaning that individuals at the end of life and the relatives of such individuals award spiritual and/or religious beliefs through an examination of caregiver narratives. Multicentric study was developed that used a qualitative design and a phenomenological approach. The study was conducted in the autonomous community of Andalusia, specifically in the provinces of Almeria, Malaga, Seville, Granada, and Huelva. The selection method was purposive sampling. Caregivers who had lost a relative in a period between 2 months and 2 years previously and who were not in a process of pathological grieving were selected for inclusion in the study. The method involved five discussion groups and 41 in-depth interviews, with a total of 87 participants. A change of paradigms is necessary in which, among other elements, the focus of palliative care is centered on the ability to address these spiritual needs, and healthcare professionals are trained to assist in the provision of such care. Another important consideration is the inequality of spiritual supported provided by clergy from various religions. At least in the cultural context of the research, Catholic chaplains were the only institutional figures whose presence was assumed necessary by health organizations. However, the cultural and/or religious diversity in the autonomous community in which the study was conducted is increasingly broad and complex. It appears necessary to incorporate a variety of clergies in health units so that all patients may find support, whether in terms of companionship or celebration. 

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Journal of Religion and Health
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