Spiritual Care Practices and Nurses' Perceptions of Efficacy

Monday, 22 July 2013: 1:50 PM

Cheryl Delgado, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH

Learning Objective 1: The learner willl be able to identify commonly used nursing spiritual care interventions.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to identify nursing spiritual care practices believed to be most effective by nurses.


This study explores the current spiritual care practices used by nurses and their perceptions of the effectiveness of these practices. Previous research indicates  nurses do not consistently provide spiritual care and feel ill equipped to do so. There is little information in the literature as to the type of spiritual care practices nurses use most frequently and their belief in the effectiveness of the practices they provide.


This was an exploratory descriptive design using an online quantitative survey (N=123) and qualitative data from interviews with volunteers (n=5) from the surveyed group. Volunteers were recruited from the nursing alumni of a Midwestern university and the members of the Ohio League for Nurses. Quantitative data analysis was done using the SPSS PASW 18 statistical program. Qualitative content analysis of audio taped interviews was used to support and augment the statistical findings.


The most frequently used spiritual care interventions were listening to a patient concerns for support/comfort, non-sexual physical contact for support/comfort, and asking about spiritual concerns. Used less often were contacting family or spiritual advisors and communicating patient’s spiritual needs with others. Nurse perceived listening to be most effective, followed by assessing spiritual needs, physical contact, and contacting a spiritual advisor.


Nurses in this study described themselves as spiritual rather than religious and engaged in a number of practices that are supportive rather than overtly religious. The findings different slightly from earlier studies in that prayer was not as frequently used or perceived as effective by the respondents in this study. Nurses were confident in their ability to provide spiritual care and initiated such care. They felt that experience, not formal education, prepared them to do so. They strongly connected caring and holistic practice with providing spiritual care.