Critical Care Nurses’ Perceived Need for Guidance in Addressing Spirituality in Critically Ill Patients

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BackgroundThe 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.ObjectivesTo 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.MethodsIndividual interviews with 30 nurses who worked in a critical care unit at a large Midwestern teaching hospital.ResultsNurses 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.ConclusionsA 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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