Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Spiritual Needs of Families with Bereavement and Loss of an Infant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: A Qualitative Study

CONTEXT: The hospital is a place full of distress and questions about the meaning of life. The death of a child can cause a spiritual struggle and crisis. Therefore, it is necessary for health care providers in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to assess the spiritual needs of families that have lost a child. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to explore the spiritual needs of families in Iran at the end of their baby’s life and through bereavement in the NICU. METHODS: This study was an exploratory qualitative study performed using purposeful sampling and semi-structured interviews with 24 participants. Inclusion criteria for families, nurses, and physicians included having experienced at least one newborn death in the last six months in the NICU. The research environment was the NICU in Isfahan, one of the largest cities in Iran. RESULTS: Data analysis revealed three main themes: spiritual belief in a supernatural power, the need for comfort of the soul, and human dignity for the newborn. CONCLUSION: The results of this study created a new vision in addressing spiritual needs of Iranian families who experience the death of a newborn.