Dignity therapy intervention fidelity: a cross-sectional descriptive study with older adult outpatients with cancer

Tasha M. Schoppee, Lisa Scarton, Susan Bluck, Yingwei Yao, Gail Keenan, Virginia Samuels, George Fitchett, George Handzo, Harvey M. Chochinov, Linda L. Emanuel, Diana J. Wilkie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: Intervention fidelity is imperative to ensure confidence in study results and intervention replication in research and clinical settings. Like many brief protocol psychotherapies, Dignity Therapy lacks sufficient evidence of intervention fidelity. To overcome this gap, our study purpose was to examine intervention fidelity among therapists trained with a systematized training protocol. Methods: For preliminary fidelity evaluation in a large multi-site stepped wedge randomized controlled trial, we analyzed 46 early transcripts of interviews from 10 therapists (7 female; 7 White, 3 Black). Each transcript was evaluated with the Revised Dignity Therapy Adherence Checklist for consistency with the Dignity Therapy protocol in terms of its Process (15 dichotomous items) and Core Principles (6 Likert-type items). A second rater independently coded 26% of the transcripts to assess interrater reliability. Results: Each therapist conducted 2 to 10 interviews. For the 46 scored transcripts, the mean Process score was 12.4/15 (SD = 1.2), and the mean Core Principles score was 9.9/12 (SD = 1.8) with 70% of the transcripts at or above the 80% fidelity criterion. Interrater reliability (Cohen’s kappa and weighted kappa) for all Adherence Checklist items ranged between.75 and 1.0. For the Core Principles items, Cronbach’s alpha was.92. Conclusions: Preliminary findings indicate that fidelity to Dignity Therapy delivery was acceptable for most transcripts and provide insights for improving consistency of intervention delivery. The systematized training protocol and ongoing monitoring with the fidelity audit tool will facilitate consistent intervention delivery and add to the literature about fidelity monitoring for brief protocol psychotherapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalBMC Palliative Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Dignity therapy
  • Intervention Fidelity
  • Palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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