Clinical utility of demoralization: A systematic review of the literature

Woźniewicz Agnieszka, Cosci Fiammetta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Demoralization is a complex clinical phenomenon which has raised a growing interest in clinical and research realms. The present systematic review of the literature aimed at (1) updating on demoralization prevalence in different populations, (2) identifying the instruments more largely used to assess demoralization, and (3) verifying whether new tools of assessment have been proposed. PubMed and Web of Science were searched from inception to April 2022. Search terms were: demoralization/demoralized/demoralizing/demoralised/demoralising. PRISMA guidelines were followed. GRADE rating system was used. A total of 188 papers were included. Demoralization appeared to be a distinctive psychological state common in medical, psychiatric, and non-clinical settings, thus not limited to life-threatening diseases. Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research (DCPR) and Demoralization Scale (DS) are the most commonly used tools to assess it. DCPR allow to diagnose demoralization as a manifestation of dealing with chronic stress. DS captures dimensionally a psychological distress related to end of life. Demoralization is associated with clinical features encompassing allostatic overload, quality of life, wellbeing/euthymia. Implications on health outcomes and treatment are discussed. Demoralization warrants careful consideration in clinical contexts through valid assessment procedures. DCPR are recommended to diagnose it, DS can be helpful to capture clinical details.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102227
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Early online date25 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

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