Spirituality in Nursing

Providing spiritual care is an important foundation of nursing and is a requirement mandated by accreditation organizations. Spiritual care is essential in all clinical areas. Clinicians may be unable to respond to spiritual needs because of inadequate education or the assumption that spiritual needs should be addressed by clergy, chaplains, or other “spiritual” care providers.

Spirituality and religious beliefs and practices are important elements of health and well-being. Providing spiritual care is a vital component of providing holistic nursing care. Spiritual care includes building intuitive, caring, interpersonal relationships with patients that reflect patients’ spiritual/religious reality. The impact of spirituality, as a component of psychological well-being, is becoming more recognized by health professionals as well as by national organizations.

Standards for accreditation now include criteria for addressing the spiritual needs of patients. The Joint Commission has an accreditation standard that includes the patient’s right to spiritual care and support (2013). This includes a spiritual assessment when providing care, treatment, and services. Schools of nursing should be preparing graduates to provide spiritual care.

The relationship between spirituality and coping abilities is relatively new in the nursing literature, but the number of studies addressing spirituality and health has increased dramatically during the last decade. There is little in the literature to measure spiritual development in nurses. Central to understanding spirituality is a basic knowledge of the spiritual development of a person. A number of theories attempt to describe spiritual development.

  1. Is there a relationship between nurses whose basic nursing education program emphasized spiritual care and the nurses’ comfort level, knowledge, and nurse– patient interactions related to spiritual care than those whose program did not emphasize spiritual care?
  2. Is there a relationship between the nurse’s own spiritual/religious beliefs and the nurse’s comfort level and ability to provide nurse–patient interactions related to spiritual care?
  3. Is there a relationship between the nurse’s comfort level and the assessment of patients’ spiritual needs?

Provide a rationale for strengthening the spirituality component in basic nursing education programs that either do not address spirituality or do not incorporate spiritual care in the planning and delivery of patient care.

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