Exploration of Clinical Nurses’ Perceptions of Spirituality and Spiritual Care

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Background:Florence Nightingale emphasized the need for nurses to honor the psychological and spiritual aspects of patients to promote patients’ health. Whereas Chan’s (2010) study of a public hospital in Singapore presented similar findings, few studies have explored clinical nurses’ perceptions of spirituality.Purpose:The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of specific nurse demographic characteristics in predicting perception differences with regard to spirituality and spiritual care.Methods:The Chinese version of the Spirituality and Spiritual Care Rating Scale was developed using a translate and back-translate process, achieving a content validity index of .98. This study used a cross-sectional descriptive survey with 350 clinical nurses as the study sample. Three hundred forty-nine valid questionnaires were returned (response rate, 99.71%). The institutional review board of the hospital approved this study.Results:Most participants were women, ranging in age from 23 to 64 years. Participants’ clinical experience ranged from less than 1 year to 40 years, with a mean experience value of 13.42 years. Participants were distributed among all clinical specialties. Slightly less than half (41.83%) professed no religious belief, and most were not involved in religious activities (55.01%, n = 192). A little over half (53.58%, n = 187) had received spiritual care lessons during nurse training, and more than half (58.74%, n = 205) had received spiritual care continuous education after graduation. This survey found perception of spirituality positively related to holding a master’s degree, 11 to 19 years of clinical experience, specialty in palliative nursing, and having received spiritual care lessons during nursing training or continuing education. Clinical nurses who held a master’s degree or received spiritual care lessons during continuing education had higher levels of spiritual care perception.Conclusions/Implications for Practice:This study found education to have a positive impact on participants’ perception of spirituality and spiritual care. A higher education level and more spiritual care lessons or training courses were found to increase perception level. Study findings provide preliminary insights into nurses’ perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care in Taiwan. Findings demonstrate an urgent need for additional education programs or training in spiritual care to improve the ability of nurses in catering to the spiritual needs of patients and guide clinical nurses when conducting spiritual care.

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