Search Summaries

The National Archive of Grief Support Studies

The National Archive of Grief Support Studies(NAGSS) database provides bibliographical information and summaries of recent articles selected for their relevance to grief and bereavement service providers. The articles that are summarized are selected from scholarly, peer-reviewed journals and are intended to highlight key concepts as well as provide a brief statement of implications for service providers. Bibliographical information may be used to obtain the original article.

Fear of Death, Mortality Communication, and Psychological Distress Among Secular and Religiously Observant Family Caregivers of Terminal Cancer Patients

Bachner, Yaacov G.
O’Rourke, Norm
Carmel, Sara

Death Studies: 35(2), 163-187.


The authors of this article conducted a study to investigate the differences in communication regarding a family member’s impending death and the resulting levels of psychological distress between two groups of Israeli caregivers, a group of religiously observant Jews and a secular group.  Each participant in both groups had been the primary caregiver of a terminally ill family member. All participants completed the Caregiver Communication with Patients about Illness and Death Scale (CCID), the Fear of Death and Dying Inventory, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), and the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI).  The results indicated that the secular individuals were more likely to have spoken candidly with their ill family member about the progression of the disease and the imminent death.  The secular group had significantly lower levels of fear of death, and demonstrated significantly less depressive symptoms.  There was no statistical difference in the levels of emotional exhaustion between the two groups.

Key Words:  secular, religiously observant, terminal illness, mortality communication

Service Provider Implications

Service providers are alerted to the importance of encouraging caregivers facing the imminent death of a family member to discuss the impending death in a very open way in order to reduce post-death psychological distress.