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Spiritual distress of military veterans at the end of life
Quantitative Health Sciences Publications and Presentations
  • Bei-Hung Chang, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Nathan R. Stein, Providence VA Medical Center
  • Lara M. Skarf, VA Boston Healthcare System
UMMS Affiliation
Department of Quantitative Health Sciences
Date
6-1-2015
Document Type
Article
Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Although combat experiences can have a profound impact on individuals' spirituality, there is a dearth of research in this area. Our recent study indicates that one unique spiritual need of veterans who are at the end of life is to resolve distress caused by combat-related events that conflict with their personal beliefs. This study sought to gain an understanding of chaplains' perspectives on this type of spiritual need, as well as the spiritual care that chaplains provide to help veterans ease this distress.

METHOD: We individually interviewed five chaplains who have provided spiritual care to veterans at the end of life in a Veterans Administration hospital. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed based on "grounded theory."

RESULTS: Chaplains reported that they frequently encounter veterans at the end of life who are still suffering from thoughts or images of events that occurred during their military career. Although some veterans are hesitant to discuss their experiences, chaplains reported that they have had some success with helping the veterans to open up. Additionally, chaplains reported using both religious (e.g., confessing sins) and nonreligious approaches (e.g., recording military experience) to help veterans to heal.

SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Our pilot study provides some insight into the spiritual distress that many military veterans may be experiencing, as well as methods that a chaplain can employ to help these veterans. Further studies are needed to confirm our findings and to examine the value of integrating the chaplain service into mental health care for veterans.

Rights and Permissions
Citation: Palliat Support Care. 2015 Jun;13(3):635-9. doi: 10.1017/S1478951514000273. Epub 2014 Apr 28. Link to article on publisher's site
Related Resources
Link to Article in PubMed
Keywords
  • End of life,
  • Religion,
  • Spiritual distress,
  • Spirituality,
  • Veterans,
  • War
PubMed ID
24773768
Citation Information
Bei-Hung Chang, Nathan R. Stein and Lara M. Skarf. "Spiritual distress of military veterans at the end of life" Vol. 13 Iss. 3 (2015) ISSN: 1478-9515 (Linking)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/bei-hung-chang/5/