Attitudes to spiritual care among nursing staff in a Swedish oncology clinic

Mikael Lundmark
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2006, 15 (7): 863-74

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To identify factors which may influence attitudes to spiritual care, test the relevance of these identified influencing factors in a Swedish nursing context, and replicate a part of a previous study by Strang et al. (Journal of Clinical Nursing 2002;11:48-57) dealing with attitudes to spiritual care in a holistic perspective. A questionnaire was handed out to all nursing staff at a Swedish oncology clinic (n=93) excluding the radiation therapy ward. Data were obtained from 68 nurses or nursing auxiliaries.

DESIGN AND METHODS: (i) Literature review of international research reports concerning spiritual care in a nursing context. (ii) Construction of a questionnaire comprising 17 questions with given alternatives based on the previous literature study. (iii) Operationalization of the concept 'attitudes to spiritual care' into some more easily measurable questions through identification in earlier research reports of conceivable indicators of attitudes to spiritual care. (iv) Construction of a suggestion for a definition of the concept 'spiritual care' from the results of Strang et al. (2002) to be used in the questionnaire. (v) Statistical analysis of the data from the questionnaire and a comparison with previous studies.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: The replicating part of the study are mainly in accordance with Strang et al. (2002) and lead to the conclusions that holistic care (i) is desirable, (ii) should include spiritual needs of the patients and (iii) is not yet realized in Swedish health care. The identified influencing factors are relevant in a Swedish nursing context. The factors influencing the largest number of indicators of attitudes to spiritual care are 'non-organized religiousness' and 'degree of comfort while providing spiritual care'. Other influencing factors are: 'belief in God', 'belief in life after death', 'organized religiousness', 'profession', and 'the perceived degree of education in spiritual care'.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Knowledge of attitudes towards spiritual care among nursing staff and factors influencing these attitudes will improve the possibilities of meeting the spiritual needs of patients.

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