Abbreviated dignity therapy for adults with advanced-stage cancer and their family caregivers: Qualitative analysis of a pilot study

Adrienne Beck, Ann H. Cottingham, Patrick V. Stutz, Rachel Gruber, Jennifer K. Bernat, Paul Helft, Laura Wilhelm, Karen Schmidt, Madison E. Stout, Claire Willard, Shelley Johns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

ObjectiveDignity therapy (DT) is designed to address psychological and existential challenges that terminally ill individuals face. DT guides patients in developing a written legacy project in which they record and share important memories and messages with those they will leave behind. DT has been demonstrated to ease existential concerns for adults with advanced-stage cancer; however, lack of institutional resources limits wide implementation of DT in clinical practice. This study explores qualitative outcomes of an abbreviated, less resource-intensive version of DT among participants with advanced-stage cancer and their legacy project recipients.MethodQualitative methods were used to analyze postintervention interviews with 11 participants and their legacy recipients as well as the created legacy projects. Direct content analysis was used to assess feedback from the interviews about benefits, barriers, and recommendations regarding abbreviated DT. The legacy projects were coded for expression of core values.ResultFindings suggest that abbreviated DT effectively promotes (1) self-expression, (2) connection with loved ones, (3) sense of purpose, and (4) continuity of self. Participants observed that leading the development of their legacy projects promoted independent reflection, autonomy, and opportunities for family interaction when reviewing and discussing the projects. Consistent with traditional DT, participants expressed "family" as the most common core value in their legacy projects. Expression of "autonomy" was also a notable finding.Significance of resultsAbbreviated DT reduces resource barriers to conducting traditional DT while promoting similar benefits for participants and recipients, making it a promising adaptation warranting further research. The importance that patients place on family and autonomy should be honored as much as possible by those caring for adults with advanced-stage cancer.

LanguageEnglish (US)
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

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Caregivers
Interviews
Terminally Ill
Neoplasms
Ego
Therapeutics
Psychology
Research

Keywords

  • Advanced-stage cancer
  • Autonomy
  • Dignity therapy
  • Existential
  • Palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Abbreviated dignity therapy for adults with advanced-stage cancer and their family caregivers : Qualitative analysis of a pilot study. / Beck, Adrienne; Cottingham, Ann H.; Stutz, Patrick V.; Gruber, Rachel; Bernat, Jennifer K.; Helft, Paul; Wilhelm, Laura; Schmidt, Karen; Stout, Madison E.; Willard, Claire; Johns, Shelley.

In: Palliative and Supportive Care, 01.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Beck, Adrienne ; Cottingham, Ann H. ; Stutz, Patrick V. ; Gruber, Rachel ; Bernat, Jennifer K. ; Helft, Paul ; Wilhelm, Laura ; Schmidt, Karen ; Stout, Madison E. ; Willard, Claire ; Johns, Shelley. / Abbreviated dignity therapy for adults with advanced-stage cancer and their family caregivers : Qualitative analysis of a pilot study. In: Palliative and Supportive Care. 2018.
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