Promoting Research Literacy for Improved Patient Outcomes

Palliative care specialists’ beliefs about spiritual care

PURPOSE: A previous survey of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) members found low frequency of spiritual care provision. We hypothesized that physicians with special training in palliative medicine would demonstrate an increased sense of responsibility for and higher self-reported adequacy to provide spiritual care to patients than health professionals with general training. METHODS: We surveyed members of the Australian and New Zealand Palliative Medicine Society (ANZSPM) to ascertain their spiritual care practices. We sent 445 e-mails on four occasions, inviting members to complete the online survey. Tabulated results were analyzed to describe the results. RESULTS: One hundred and fifty-eight members (35.5 %) responded. Physicians working primarily in palliative care comprised the majority (95 %) of the sample. Significantly more of the ANZSPM than MASCC respondents had previously received training in spiritual care and had pursued training in the previous 2 years. There was a significant difference between the two groups with regard to interest in and self-reported ability to provide spiritual care. Those who believed it was their responsibility to provide spiritual care were more likely to have had training, feel they could adequately provide spiritual care, and were more likely to refer patients if they could not provide spiritual care themselves. CONCLUSIONS: Training in spiritual care was more common in healthcare workers who had received training in palliative care. ANZSPM members gave higher scores for both the importance of spiritual care and self-reported ability to provide it compared to MASCC members.