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Facing imminent death can be an unremitting problem for hospice patients who lack psychological support for existential concerns that contribute to depressive symptoms and suffering. According to terror management theory, spiritual and religious beliefs are a common means of coping with mortality at the end of life, and few studies have considered how hospice patients feel about their impending death. This was a quantitative, cross-sectional study that examined whether spirituality and religious coping moderated the relationship between imminent death concerns and depressive symptoms in 54 hospice patients. Participants completed a self-administered survey that included the Templer Death Anxiety scale, Brief RCOPE, Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale, and Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy Spiritual Well-Being scale. Data analyses included multiple regression, Pearson correlation, independent sample t tests, and Cronbach's alpha test of reliability. Spirituality and religious coping did not significantly moderate the relationship between imminent death concerns and depressive symptoms. Total spirituality, meaning, and peace were significant predictors of depressive symptoms. A recommendation is to develop more research using terror management theory with participants such as hospice patients who are directly facing their imminent death. Positive social change is promoted by highlighting the importance of discussing death and dying with hospice patients, and recognizing religion and spirituality as valid influences to psychological health. This study's findings could lead to further research in developing psychological interventions that target depression and minimize existential distress for patients at the end of their life.
Siegel, Janine, "Spirituality, Religious Coping, and Depressive Symptoms in Hospice Patients: A Terror Management Perspective" (2015). Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies. 381.