Although spiritual care is considered one of the pillars of palliative care, many health-care providers never receive formal training on how to communicate about spirituality with patients and families. The aim of this study was to explore the spiritual care experiences of oncology nurses in order to learn more about patient needs and nurse responses.Methods:
A survey was circulated at a communication training course for oncology nurses in June 2015. Nurses recalled a care experience that included the initiation of a spiritual care topic and their response to the patient/family. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis.Results:
Nurses reported that communication about spirituality was primarily initiated by patients, rather than family members, and spiritual topics commonly emerged during the end of life or when patients experienced spiritual distress. Nurses’ experiences highlighted the positive impact spiritual conversations had on the quality of patient care and its benefit to families. Spiritual communication was described as an important nursing role at the end of patients’ lives, and nonverbal communication, listening, and discussing patients’ emotions were emphasized as important and effective nurse communication skills during spiritual care conversations. Approximately one-third of nurses in the sample reported sharing their own personal spiritual or religious backgrounds with patients, and they reported that these sharing experiences strengthened their own faith.Conclusion:
It is evident that patients want to discuss spiritual topics during care. Study findings illustrate the need to develop a spiritual communication curriculum and provide spiritual care communication training to clinicians.