Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Dignity Enhanced through Faith & Family Support...

Electronic data

  • silva_manuscript_for_BMC_may_16

    Accepted author manuscript, 373 KB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Dignity Enhanced through Faith & Family Support in Palliative Care: A Qualitative Study

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number142
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>7/06/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>BMC Palliative Care
Issue number1
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background: Dignity is integral to palliative care. Illness can diminish it, causing hopelessness and the wish to hasten death. Yet, dignity is a complex multidimensional phenomenon, influenced by values and context. Understanding its varying interpretations can inform practice and policy. The aim of the study is to explore the understanding of dignity in adult patients with palliative care needs from a Lebanese perspective and how it is preserved during illness and while receiving health services. Design: Qualitative interview study underpinned with a social constructionist lens. Fourteen patients recruited from home-based hospice and outpatient clinics in Lebanon. Data analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Results: Four themes were developed across all the interviews: (a) Dignity anchored through faith in God and religious practices; (b) Family support in maintaining physical, psychological wellbeing, and social connectedness; (c) Physical fitness, mental acuity, and healthy appearance through which patients may escape the stigma of disease, (d) accessible, equitable, and compassionate healthcare. Discussion: Dignity is elusive and difficult to define but faith and religious beliefs play a significant contribution in this study. For the participants, illness is seen as a natural part of life that does not necessarily diminish dignity, but it is the illness related changes that potentially affect dignity. Findings show the importance of family and children in preserving dignity during illness and how their active presence provide a sense of pride and identity. Participants aspired to restore physical, social, and mental well-being to reclaim their dignity and normalize their lives. Challenges related to physical appearance, memory loss, vitality, and social stigma associated with illness diminished dignity. Accessible, equitable and compassionate healthcare services are also crucial in preserving dignity. Participants valued clear communication, respect, and empathy from healthcare providers and identified affordability of care essential for maintaining dignity. Conclusion: Faith in God, and strong family ties are dominant elements to maintaining dignity in the Lebanese context. Relational connectedness with family, children or God is also a need in maintaining dignity in other communal countries with variations in emphasis. The study indicates that religious and cultural context shapes the needs and perceptions of dignity during illness. These findings are likely to be transferable to many Middle Eastern countries but also countries with strong religious and family ties globally.