Critical Care Nurses’ Perceived Need for Guidance in Addressing Spirituality in Critically Ill Patients
BACKGROUND: The term spirituality is highly subjective. No common or universally accepted definition for the term exists. Without a clear definition, each nurse must reconcile his or her own beliefs within a framework mutually suitable for both nurse and patient. OBJECTIVES: To examine individual critical care nurses’ definition of spirituality, their comfort in providing spiritual care to patients, and their perceived need for education in providing this care. METHODS: Individual interviews with 30 nurses who worked in a critical care unit at a large Midwestern teaching hospital. RESULTS: Nurses generally feel comfortable providing spiritual care to critically ill patients but need further education about multicultural considerations. Nurses identified opportunities to address spiritual needs throughout a patient’s stay but noted that these needs are usually not addressed until the end of life. CONCLUSIONS: A working definition for spirituality in health care was developed: That part of person that gives meaning and purpose to the person’s life. Belief in a higher power that may inspire hope, seek resolution, and transcend physical and conscious constraints.
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