Assessing the will to live: A scoping review
Bornet, M-A., Bernard, M., Jaques, C., Truchard, E.R., Borasio, G.D., & Jox, R.J.
The will to live is an important factor to consider in the context of providing resource-oriented palliative care. Until now, there has been no major review of the existing research on this subject.
The primary objective of this study is to summarize the state of research concerning instruments that assess the will to live. The secondary objective is to explore the theoretical models and psychometric properties of these instruments, in studies where these instruments were initially presented. The tertiary objective is to identify, among all studies where these instruments have been used, the intensity of the will to live and factors associated with it.
We conducted a scoping review, including studies that were designed to assess the will to live among participants in all settings. Records were systematically searched from seven bibliographic databases with no date limitations up to August 2020.
Of the 3078 records screened, 281 were examined in detail and 111 were included in the synthesis. A total of 25 different instruments quantitatively assessing the will to live are presented. Most are single-question tools and rate intensity. The underlying concepts and psychometric properties are incompletely explained. Lack of cross-referencing is apparent. The intensity of the will to live is high, even among people with significant health impairment, and is frequently associated with different factors, such as resilience and quality of life.
A considerable yet unconnected body of studies assesses the will to live. Its assessment in clinical routine could promote resource-oriented, patient-centered care.