Multidisciplinary Training on Spiritual Care for Patients in Palliative Care Trajectories Improves the Attitudes and Competencies of Hospital Medical Staff: Results of a Quasi-Experimental Study

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Abstract

Objectives:

Patients value health-care professionals’ attention to their spiritual needs. However, this is undervalued in health-care professionals’ education. Additional training is essential for implementation of a national multidisciplinary guideline on spiritual care (SC) in palliative care (PC). Aim of this study is to measure effects of a training program on SC in PC based on the guideline.

Methods:

A pragmatic multicenter trial using a quasi-experimental pretest–posttest design as part of an action research study. Eight multidisciplinary teams in regular wards and 1 team of PC consultants, in 8 Dutch teaching hospitals, received questionnaires before training about perceived barriers for SC, spiritual attitudes and involvement, and SC competencies. The effect on the barriers on SC and SC competencies were measured both 1 and 6 months after the training.

Results:

For nurses (n = 214), 7 of 8 barriers to SC were decreased after 1 month, but only 2 were still after 6 months. For physicians (n = 41), the training had no effect on the barriers to SC. Nurses improved in 4 of 6 competencies after both 1 and 6 months. Physicians improved in 3 of 6 competencies after 1 month but in only 1 competency after 6 months.

Significance of Results:

Concise SC training programs for clinical teams can effect quality of care, by improving hospital staff competencies and decreasing the barriers they perceive. Differences in the effects of the SC training on nurses and physicians show the need for further research on physicians’ educational needs on SC.

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