The effects of life review interventions on spiritual well-being, psychological distress, and quality of life in patients with terminal or advanced cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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Abstract

Background:

Life review interventions have been used to alleviate psycho-spiritual distress in people near the end of life. However, their effectiveness remains inconclusive.

Aim:

To evaluate the effects of therapeutic life review on spiritual well-being, psychological distress, and quality of life in patients with terminal or advanced cancer.

Design:

A systematic review according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses methodology.

Data sources:

Five databases were searched from their respective inception through February 2017 for relevant randomized controlled trials. The effects of therapeutic life review were pooled across the trials. Standardized mean differences were calculated for the pooled effects. Heterogeneity was assessed using the I2 test. Study quality was assessed using the Cochrane criteria.

Results:

Eight randomized controlled trials met the inclusion criteria. The pooled results suggested a desirable effect of therapeutic life review on the meaning of life domain of spiritual well-being (standardized mean difference = 0.33; 95% confidence interval, 0.12 to 0.53), general distress (standardized mean difference = −0.32; 95% confidence interval, −0.55 to −0.09), and overall quality of life (standardized mean difference = 0.35; 95% confidence interval, 0.15 to 0.56) when compared to usual care only. Of the three outcomes examined, only the pooled effect on overall quality of life remained statistically significant at follow-ups up to 3 months after the intervention (standardized mean difference = 0.82; 95% confidence interval, 0.47 to 1.18).

Conclusions:

Therapeutic life review is potentially beneficial for people near the end of life. However, the results should be interpreted with caution due to the limited number of randomized controlled trials and associated methodological weaknesses. Further rigorously designed randomized controlled trials are warranted.

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