Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: A Framework for Achieving Human Potential in Hospice

Zalenski, Robert J.; Raspa, Richard
October 2006
Journal of Palliative Medicine;Oct2006, Vol. 9 Issue 5, p1120
Academic Journal
Although the widespread implementation of hospice in the United States has led to tremendous advances in the care of the dying, there has been no widely accepted psychological theory to drive needs assessment and intervention design for the patient and family. The humanistic psychology of Abraham Maslow, especially his theory of motivation and the hierarchy of needs, has been widely applied in business and social science, but only sparsely discussed in the palliative care literature. In this article we review Maslow's original hierarchy, adapt it to hospice and palliative care, apply the adaptation to a case example, and then discuss its implications for patient care, education, and research. The five levels of the hierarchy of needs as adapted to palliative care are: (1) distressing symptoms, such as pain or dyspnea; (2) fears for physical safety, of dying or abandonment; (3) affection, love and acceptance in the face of devastating illness; (4) esteem, respect, and appreciation for the person; (5) selfactualization and transcendence. Maslow's modified hierarchy of palliative care needs could be utilized to provide a comprehensive approach for the assessment of patients' needs and the design of interventions to achieve goals that start with comfort and potentially extend to the experience of transcendence.


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