Meeting patients' spiritual needs during end of life care: A qualitative study of nurses' and healthcare professionals' perceptions of spiritual care training

Mary O'Brien, Karen Kinloch, K. Groves, Barbara Jack

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    Aim and objectives To explore nurses’ and healthcare professionals’ perceptions of spiritual care and the impact of spiritual care training on their clinical roles. Background Many nurses and healthcare professionals feel unprepared and lack confidence, competence and skills, to recognise, assess and address patients’ spiritual issues. Patients with unmet spiritual needs are at increased risk of poorer psychological outcomes, diminished quality of life and reduced sense of spiritual peace. There are implications for patient care if nurses and healthcare professionals cannot attend to patients’ spiritual needs. Design A qualitative methodology was adopted. Methods Recruitment was purposive. 21 generalist and specialist nursing and healthcare professionals from Northwest and Southwest England, who undertook spiritual care training between 2015-2017 were recruited. Participants were a minimum of three months post-training. Digitally audio-recorded semi-structured interviews lasting 11-40 minutes were undertaken in 2016-2017. Data were subject to thematic analysis. Ethical committee approval was obtained. COREQ reporting guidelines were utilized. Results Two main themes were identified; recognising spirituality, with sub-themes of what spirituality means and what matters, and supporting spiritual needs with sub-themes of recognition of spiritual distress, communication skills, not having the answers and going beyond the physical. Conclusions Supporting patients as they approach the end-of-life needs a skilled workforce; acknowledging the importance of spiritual care and having skills to address it are central to delivery of best holistic care. Relevance to clinical practice Spiritual care is as important as physical care and supporting patients spiritually as they approach the end-of-life is vital. Appropriately trained, nurses and healthcare professionals are better able to assess, explore, and meet patients’ spiritual needs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
    Early online date9 Aug 2018
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Aug 2018


    • End-of-Life Care
    • palliative care
    • nurse/healthcare professional education
    • qualitative research
    • telephone interviews
    • spirituality
    • spiritual care training


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