Meaning of life therapy: a pilot study of a novel psycho-existential intervention for palliative care in cancer

Ana Rita Cardoso, Sónia Remondes-Costa, Elisa Veiga, Vera Almeida, José Rocha, Ricardo João Teixeira, Gerly Macedo, Manuela Leite*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Intervention in Palliative Care aims to provide physical, psychosocial, and spiritual relief for patients and family members. Brief interventions with a psycho-existential approach have shown positive responses; however, cultural adaptations are needed. This pilot study aimed to develop the Meaning of Life Therapy (MLT), a novel psycho-existential intervention, rooted in the Dignity Therapy, Life Review, and Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy. MLT was culturally adapted to the Portuguese context to include questions about forgiveness, apology, reconciliation, farewell, and a legacy document, i.e., the Life Letter. Nine PC cancer patients answered a 14-question MLT protocol, intended to help patients find purpose and meaning in life. Eight themes emerged: Family, Preservation of Identity, Life Retrospective, Clinical Situation, Achievements, Socio-Professional Valorization, Forgiveness/Apology/Reconciliation, and Saying Goodbye. MLT has proved its ability to respond to the psycho-existential needs of PC patients. Further studies should be conducted to gain extensive knowledge of the effectiveness of culturally responsive interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalOmega (United States)
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Cancer
  • Dignity
  • Meaning of life therapy
  • Palliative care
  • Psycho-existential interventions


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