Jenewein Seiler Klaghofer Schnyder Obrist Nigg Drabe

Fakultäten » Medizinische Fakultät » Konsiliarpsychiatrie und Psychosomatik, Klinik für » Prof. Dr. Josef Jenewein » Jenewein Seiler Klaghofer Schnyder Obrist Nigg Drabe

Completed research project

Title / Titel Dignity Therapy+: A brief psychological and existential intervention for dying patients and their families - a pilot study
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Original title / Originaltitel Dignity Therapy+: Eine kurze psychotherapeutische Behandlung zur Stärkung des Gefühls von Würde und Reduktion von Ängsten und Depression bei Menschen an ihrem Lebensende und ihren Angehörigen
Summary / Zusammenfassung Background: There has been significant progress in symptom management, pain relief and improvement of quality of life in patients nearing death by implementing palliative care programs. Existential and dignity related issues, such as loss of autonomy and sense of meaning or feeling a burden to others are frequent reasons for psychological distress and desire for hastened death. Dignity Therapy (DT), developed by Chochinov et al., is a brief, individualized psychotherapy for the purpose of relieving distress by directly addressing dignity conserving factors.

Aims: To test whether the inclusion of a patient’s partner or designated family member into Dignity Therapy (DT+) could mitigate psychological distress (anxiety and depression) in both, the patient nearing the end of his life experiencing increased psychological distress and the patient’s partner/family member compared to the control groups receiving Dignity Therapy in the single setting (DT) or standard palliative care (SPC).

Methods and design: In this randomized controlled trial a total of 159 patients with a diagnosis of an advanced disease and poor prognosis (life expectancy < 6 months) who receive palliative care either in the Palliative Care Centre of the University Hospital Zurich (USZ) or the Clinic Susenberg, Zurich, or in the “Lighthouse” Hospice Zurich, will be randomly assigned to either DT+, DT, or SPC in a 1:1:1 ratio. Patients will be pre-screened and included if they report increased psychological distress (anxiety, depression using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale=HADS). The therapy is guided by trained therapists and consists of 3 audiotaped sessions. The main focus of the intervention is to invite patients to reflect on their most important achievements, roles or other things in their lives or things that they would most want remembered. On completion, the audiorecording is transcribed and edited to provide a clear and readable narrative, the generativity document, which can be passed to a person of the patient’s choice. DT+, in contrast to the original intervention developed by Chochinov et al., is a systemic approach in which patient’s partners or designated family members are included.
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Dr. Josef Jenewein (Project Leader)
Dr. phil. Annina Seiler (Project Leader)
Prof. Dr. Richard Klaghofer (Project Leader)
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schnyder (Project Leader)
Dr. Stefan Obrist (Project Leader)
Dr. Christel Nigg (Project Leader)
Dr. Natalie Drabe (Project Leader)
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Other Public Sources (e.g. Federal or Cantonal Agencies), Foundation
Swiss Cancer Research
In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
Prof. Harvey Max Chochinov, MD, PhD, FRSC
Dr. Chochinov leads the research team that pioneered the Dignity Model and Dignity Therapy. In addition to holding the only Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care, he is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manitoba and Director of the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit, CancerCare Manitoba.
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Dec 2015 to Dec 2017