Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

GPs and spiritual care: signed up or souled out? A quantitative analysis of GP trainers’ understanding and application of the concept of spirituality

GPs have a wide range of attitudes to spirituality which contribute to variations in reported spiritual care. Study aims were: to assess concepts of spirituality and their application in a sample of GP trainers; explore statistically the relationship between personal spiritual affiliation, attitudes to, and reported practice of, spiritual care and; to examine whether GP trainers consider training in spiritual care to be adequate. Questionnaire involving 87 GP trainers using Likert scale responses and multinomial trend tests to analyse the relationships between ‘concept of spirituality’ and attitude to, or practice of, spiritual care. Cluster and latent class analysis to investigate whether groups of GPs are categorically different. Results were GPs largely considered spirituality to be a meaningful, useful, but unclear concept. 8% did not wish involvement in spiritual care, 27.6% had reservations, 46% were pragmatically willing and 12.6% expressed keenness. 35.6% reported they tend not to discuss spiritual matters. Latent class analysis suggests two groups exist: two thirds being pragmatic supporters of spiritual care and one third are tentative sceptics. GPs vary widely in their attitude to, and practice of spiritual care. Only 10.3% reported receiving adequate training in spiritual care.