Spiritual Needs in Nursing Care: Tools Development


Nursing sphere is full of interesting and educative events as a result of which people can find some effective approaches to improve the situation and to improve human health. In spite of the fact that nurses do not have to solve all spiritual problems and challenges (Matzo & Sherman 2006), they still make everything possible to create an appropriate environment for patients. In this paper, the development of the spiritual needs assessment tool is analyzed in order to define what preferences patients may have and what attitude they have to the idea of spiritual healing. In the process of the analysis, it is necessary to define what kind of challenges may appear, what spiritual needs are of high importance, and how helpful the tool can be for nursing practice in the process of which patients get proper treatment.

Summary of findings

With the help of the assessment tool that consists of two parts, it becomes easy to discover what attitude to faith in God people may have. On the one hand, “the majority of patients with serious illness want their spiritual issues addressed in their care” (Angelos, 2008, p. 78). On the other hand, not every person is eager to share their spiritual worlds with other people. A male patient at the age of 43 was interviewed. He agreed to answer several questions; he sounded rather confident and definite. This is why it is possible to consider all his answers true and virtuous. It was discovered that the respondent believed in God, but still, he had a kind of down-to-earth attitude to treatment methods. So, general impression about the findings is the following: people will hardly refuse an idea of God; they cannot neglect the fact that God has certain power over people; however, it is not always necessary to pray day by day because considering the modern style of life, people usually lack for time.

A tool helps to define weak and strong sides of a person

Mary O’Brien (2003) admits that “spirituality viewed as a human need…. which inspires in one the desire to transcend the realm of the material” (p.5). The respondent under consideration answered all questions confidently and quick. It did not take much time to evaluate each point, because answers seemed to be evident for him. Firstly, it is necessary to mention that the man believes that God exists. However, he always tries to underline human right of choice: people are free to decide what they may believe into and choose the way of their treatment. It is possible to pray from time to time in order to get the necessary amount of spiritual support and care. But still, medical treatment has its own effects on people, and the respondent thinks it is better to trust his health to the professionals. Secondly, the questionnaire proves that in cases of serious danger or the situations when medical interruption is not beneficial, people have nothing to do but to pray and ask God to help them. The results of evaluation are the following: a person wants to be independent and believe only in his/her own powers and knowledge; however, God’s presence in the life of every person is also crucial because it provides necessary spiritual calm, some kind of communication, and hope that is necessary for patients.

Peculiarities of a questionnaire process

There are several peculiar features of the process under consideration. At the beginning, the respondent asks not to discover his name and remains to be anonymous. Such decision may be based on the fact that there are situations in his life when he does not know what to do and has to address God to get any way out. God’s help is usually in demand when people are at hospitals. Human conditions differ considerably, and people cannot be sure of appropriate and in time medical treatment. In spite of the fact that the respondent is a busy person, being at hospital, he has enough time to talk to God and ask him everything what is in need.

Challenges appeared during the process

Communication with the patient was not challenging at all. To get the answers, it is not necessary to search for the necessary material: just personal knowledge is obligatory. The patient gives clear and certain answers. The only problem that could influence the results of the analysis is that questions are a little bit general. To overcome possible challenges in future, it is necessary to elaborate more concrete questions in order to get more definite and explanatory answers.

Benefits of the tool developed

There are several benefits of the tool developed. The consideration of spiritual needs of patients helps to understand that nursing care may be improved due to the attention to the chosen aspect. Nurses are not always ready to choose appropriate treatment, and they should better have a good plan that may be applied to patients with different diseases at hand. It is necessary to think over the steps which may help the patient cope with challenges and pain. Religion is considered to be a neutral topic for discussions: if a person does not have anything against religious talks, it is possible to support the patient on the spiritual level. And if a person does not believe in God, there is nothing terrible at mentioning about human spirituality.

Personal spiritual experience

The idea of Erie Chapman seems to be rather powerful. He underlines that “healing is multi-dimensional and therefore takes into account emotional and spiritual considerations as well as physical” (Chapman, 2007, p. 39). With the help of the tool under analysis, it becomes easier to evaluate the needs of patients and understand their attitude to the spiritual development. Not every person is eager to share his/her personal experience, this is why there is no need to persuade, beg, or give orders. There is always the way of how people may share their troubles, and the attention to the spiritual world is considered to be one of the most reliable methods.

Reference List

Angelos, P. (2008). Ethical Issues in Cancer Patient Care. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Medical Center.

Chapman, E. (2007). Radical Loving Care: Building the Healing Hospital in America. Nashville, TN: Vaughn Printing.

Matzo, M. & Sherman, D.W. (2006). Palliative Care Nursing: Quality Care to the End of Life. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

O’Brien, M.E. (2003). Spirituality in Nursing: Standing on Holy Ground. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.


Appendix: Spiritual Needs Assessment Tool

Personal Attitude to Spirituality and Religious Style of Life

A number of statements may help to understand better the respondent attitude to spirituality and God’s importance.

Statement Agree Neutral Disagree
People have to be healed at physical and spiritual level. +
Prayers turn out to be an integral part of human life. +
Spiritual activities may help to develop strong relations between different people. +
Attitude to God influence human style of life and the conditions under which people live. +
The way of how you praying each day influence human healthy condition. +
If a person does not believe in God, he/she does not have a chance to be healthy +
Faith in God may considerably improve my health +
My family have to believe in God to be healthy +

Questions and Answers

The patient is required to give true answers. In return, he asks to be anonymous during the whole experiment. Such request may be caused because some personal problems, past events, or relations with relatives.

How many times do you pray?

  1. 1-2 times;
  2. 2-5 times;
  3. More than 10;
  4. I pray only when I feel danger.

Meditation is a good means to improve health. Do I believe in it?

  1. Yes, I do (4 times per week);
  2. No, I do not;
  3. I do it only if I have time.

I am eager to participate in spiritual activities with other people

  1. One time in a week;
  2. One time in a year;
  3. Never, because I am not eager to share my health problems with other people who cannot provide me necessary medical support;
  4. One day each month;
  5. One day each week;
  6. Every single day.

My children have to follow my example and

  1. Pray two times each day;
  2. Pray in case they want to;
  3. Neglect the importance of God;
  4. Visit spiritual communities from time to time.

When I fall ill, I pray

  1. 1-2 times per day;
  2. 3-5 times per day;
  3. 10 or more times per day;
  4. I am constantly doing it;
  5. I do not find it helpful.

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