The Relationship of Physiopsychosocial Factors and Spiritual Well-Being in Elderly Residents: Implications for Evidence-Based Practice

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Abstract

Background

Older adults in residential settings frequently suffer from functional decline, mental illness, and social isolation, which make them more vulnerable to spiritual distress. However, empirical evidence of the interrelationships between physiopsychosocial variables and spiritual well-being are still lacking, limiting the application of the biopsychosocial–spiritual model in institutional healthcare practice.

Aims

To explain the mechanisms by which these variables are linked, this cross-sectional study tested a causal model of predictors of spiritual well-being among 377 institutionalized older adults with disability using a structural equation modeling approach.

Methods

The primary variables in the hypothesized model were measured using the Barthel Index for functional ability, the Geriatric Depression Scale-short form for depression, the Personal Resources Questionnaire 85-Part 2 for perceived social support, and the Spiritual Well-Being Scale for spiritual well-being.

Results

The model fit indices suggest that the hypothesized model had a reasonably adequate model fit (χ2 = 12.18, df = 6, p = .07, goodness-of-fitness index [GFI] = 0.99, adjusted GIF index [AGFI] = 0.93, nonnormed fit index [NFI] = 0.99, comparative fit index [CFI] = 0.99). In this study, perceived social support and depression directly affected spiritual well-being, and functional ability indirectly affected spiritual well-being via perceived social support or depression. In addition, functional ability influenced perceived social support directly, which in turn influenced depression and ultimately influenced spiritual well-being.

Discussion

This study results confirm the effect of physiopsychosocial factors on institutionalized older adults’ spiritual well-being. However, the presence and level of functional disability do not necessarily influence spiritual well-being in late life unless it is disruptive to social relationships and is thus bound to lead to low perceived social support and the onset of depression.

Linking Evidence to Action

The findings address the fact that the practice of spirituality is multidimensional and multileveled. Psychosocial interventions for institutionalized elders with disabilities should focus on increasing nurse-patient interaction and providing access to meaningful social activities to improve mental health and spiritual well-being.

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