Theodicy and End-of-Life Care

Simon Dein*, John Swinton, Syed Qamar Abbas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


This article examines theodicy-the vindication of God's goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil from the perspectives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We focus on the thought processes that chaplains, social workers, and other professionals may use in their care interventions to address issues of theodicy for patients. Theodical issues may cause anxiety and distress for believers, but they can also potentially be a source of relief and release. Palliative care patients with a religious worldview often struggle with whether God cares about, or has sent, their pain. How social workers and other clinicians respond to such questions will have a great impact on how patients express themselves and use their religious beliefs to cope with their situations. For patients holding religious/spiritual perspectives, discussion of theodicy may facilitate closer relationships between patients and their caregivers and result in more compassionate and empathic care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-208
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care
Issue number2-3
Early online date18 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

The section on Islamic perspective is contributed by information provided by Imranali Panjwani, Tutor in Theology & Religious Studies, King's College London.


  • Christianity
  • end of life
  • God
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • religion
  • suffering
  • theodicy


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