Dignity Impact as a Primary Outcome Measure for Dignity Therapy

Lisa Scarton*, Sungho Oh, Ashley Sylvera, Ralph Lamonge, Yingwei Yao, Harvey Chochinov, George Fitchett, George Handzo, Linda Emanuel, Diana Wilkie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Feasibility of dignity therapy (DT) is well established in palliative care. Evidence of its efficacy, however, has been inconsistent and may stem from DT’s primary effects differing from the outcomes measured in previous studies. We proposed that DT effects were in the spiritual domain and created a new outcome measure, Dignity Impact Scale (DIS), from items previously used in a large randomized controlled trial (RCT). Objective: The purpose of this secondary analysis study was to examine properties of a new measure of dignity impact. Design: Using the DIS, we conducted reanalysis of posttest data from a large 3-arm, multi-site RCT study. Setting/Participants: Participants were receiving hospice/palliative care (n = 326, 50.6% female, mean age = 65.1 years, 89.3% white, all with a terminal illness with 6 months or less life expectancy). They had been randomized to standard palliative care (n = 111), client-centered care (n = 107), or DT (n = 108). Measurement: The 7-item DIS was derived from selected items in a posttest DT Patient Feedback Questionnaire. The DIS had strong internal consistency (α = 0.85). Results: The DT group mean DIS score (21.4 ± 5.0) was significantly higher than the usual care group mean score (17.7 ± 5.5; t = 5.2, df = 216, P <.001) and a client-centered intervention group mean score (17.9 ± 4.9; t = 5.2, df = 213, P <.001). Conclusion: We found that, compared to both other groups, patients who received DT reported significantly higher DIS ratings, which is consistent with the DT focus on meaning-making, preparation for death, and life completion tasks. We propose that the DIS be used as the primary outcome measure in evaluating the effects of DT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1417-1420
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • dignity impact
  • dignity therapy
  • measure
  • outcome
  • psychosocial
  • spiritual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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