Feeling 'At Peace' May Affect Medical Decision-Making

Desire for peace heightened at end of life, but spirituality may also play role in medical decisions

TUESDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The desire for a feeling of peace is heightened at the end of life, but investigators say that attitudes toward spirituality play a role in medical decision-making throughout life, according to a study in the Jan. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Karen E. Steinhauser, Ph.D., of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues questioned a sample of patients with advanced cancer, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease about their attitudes toward the concept of being at peace. Responses were scored by spirituality and quality-of-life subscales.

The authors report that neither demographic category nor diagnosis explained differences in responses. However, "feeling at peace was strongly correlated with emotional and spiritual well-being," they write. "Asking patients about the extent to which they are at peace offers a brief gateway to assessing spiritual concerns."

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