Death Anxiety, Afterlife Belief, and Patients with Terminal Cancer

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ProQuest, 2007 - 102 pages
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Over the past few years, the subject of death and dying in relation to religion has gained prominence in psychological research, yet studies on afterlife belief as a religious variable are scant and the results are equivocal. In addition, no studies have explored the effect of fear of punishment in the hereafter (FP), fear of the unknown (FU), and fear of annihilation (FA) in predicting death anxiety in patients with terminal cancer. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to determine the relationship of afterlife belief as measured by the Belief in Afterlife scale (BAS) to death anxiety as measured by the Death Anxiety scale (DAS). The purpose was also to examine the strength of FP, FU, and FA, as measured by the Fear of Personal Death scale (FPDS), in predicting death anxiety. Subjects were 83 patients with terminal cancer recruited from an oncology clinic in a major metropolis. The result of a Pearson correlation analysis yielded no significant relation between death anxiety and afterlife belief. Furthermore, regression analyses followed by Fisher's Z-transformation showed that FA, FU, and FP were similarly effective in predicting death anxiety. Although the findings did not support the stated hypotheses, the study contributes to the scant literature in the area of death anxiety. Furthermore, implications for positive social change entail increasing the awareness of the medical team that when death is impending, utilizing the dying person's spiritual belief system may enable the patient to find relief from the mental anguish associated with death and dying, and find instead peace and tranquility amidst the turmoil. This is an important social change contribution for the end of life welfare and peace of mind of the dying patients.

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