Spiritual awareness, personal perspective on death, and psychosocial distress among cancer patients

Elizabeth D. Smith, Michael E. Stefanek, Mary Vincentia Joseph, Mary Jeanne Verdieck, James R. Zabora, John H. Fetting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations


This study examined the relationship between transpersonal development and psychosocial distress of cancer patients. The study was based on a theoretical model of transpersonal development conceptualized as a relationship between one's personal perspective on death and one's level of spiritual awareness. A cross-sectional survey design was used to collect data during a single interview. A random sample of 116 men and women with cancer who were being seen in the oncology outpatient department of a regional cancer center participated in the study. Data was collected with the following: A brief questionnaire concerning demographic and oncologic information, the Transpersonal Development Inventory (developed by the first author), and the Death Attitude Profile and the Brief Symptom Inventory, which have established validity and reliability. A significant negative correlation between level of transpersonal development and level of psychosocial distress supported the major hypothesis. Twenty-four percent of the variance in psychosocial distress was explained by normalization of death (13 percent) and age (11 percent).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-103
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Psychosocial Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 1994


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Smith, E. D., Stefanek, M. E., Joseph, M. V., Verdieck, M. J., Zabora, J. R., & Fetting, J. H. (1994). Spiritual awareness, personal perspective on death, and psychosocial distress among cancer patients. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 11(3), 89-103. https://doi.org/10.1300/J077V11N03_05