Reflections on Faith among the Dying in a Secularized Society: A Qualitative study about faith among patients admitted in Danish hospices

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPosterForskningpeer review


Background: Studies suggest spiritual care support may help patients at the end of life cope with their imminent death and improve their quality of life. Denmark is known for secularism with low levels of religious belief and practice when Danes are compared with other nations. Thus it is problematic to transfer insights gained from research in more religious societies about spirituality into a Danish context. There is a knowledge gap about the significance and character of spirituality among Danish dying patients; therefore it is difficult to develop and implement targeted spiritual support.
Aim: To illuminate how Danish patients admitted to hospice reflect on their faith in the last stages of life.
Method: Data were generated through ethnographic fieldwork comprising 17 semi-structured interviews with dying patients and 38 days of participant observation at three hospices.
Results: Five themes were combined into three categories. The category “knowing” reflected that patients expressed a cognitively weak conceptual framework for faith although they believed in something transcendent and in afterlife. Their faith was influenced by Christianity but in varying ways. The category “doing” demonstrated how patients lived out their spiritual praxis where most were embedded in hesitant and uncertain manners. The category “being” exposed several patients with intensified focus on their vague articulated faith. Faith could be imbued with deep feelings such as peace and less loneliness in some, and anger, sorrow and loneliness in others as they coped with their imminent death.
Conclusion: In this study Danish patients at the end of life had a hesitant but important faith construct when coping with death. It is crucial to support patients regardless of their religious coping strategies or struggles. Yet, how to support patients in praxis is complex and perhaps even more difficult than in more religious societies because of these patients’ weak cognitive framework for faith.
StatusUdgivet - 2015
BegivenhedEAPC 2015: 14th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care - BellaCentret, København, Danmark
Varighed: 8 maj 201510 maj 2015
Konferencens nummer: 14


KonferenceEAPC 2015