Psychospiritual and existential distress. The challenge for palliative care.

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BACKGROUND: Suffering threatens the integrity of the person, never more so in palliative care than when existential distress is left unaddressed. OBJECTIVE: To describe a framework for considering existential distress, for use by the clinician, which includes issues of death anxiety, meaning of life, grief resulting from loss, isolation, loss of control and loss of dignity. DISCUSSION: Each existential challenge operates across a spectrum of response from successful adaptation to morbid complication. Clinical responses to such predicaments and their complications described herein, are exemplified by the demoralisation syndrome and its treatment. Boundary violations that arise from a 'burnt out' clinician can be avoided. Our goal is to ameliorate suffering and help our patients accomplish a more peaceful journey during their dying.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1022-1025
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian Family Physician
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

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