Nurses Exploring the Spirituality of Their Patients With Cancer: Participant Observation on a Medical Oncology Ward
Attention for spirituality should be an integral part of professionals' caregiving. Particularly, nurses caring for patients with cancer might have opportunities to give attention to this dimension.Objective:
The aim of this study was to gain insight in the way and extent to which nurses during daily caregiving observe and explore spiritual issues of hospitalized patients with cancer.Methods:
We performed an ethnographic study with participant observation. Data were collected in 2015 during 4 shifts at the medical oncology department of a university hospital. The researcher, a spiritual care provider (chaplain) wearing the same kind of uniform as the nurses, observed the nurses, participated in their actions, and interviewed them after the shift.Results:
Although the patients did send many implicit and explicit messages concerning spiritual issues, the nurses did not explore them. If noticed, 3 barriers for exploring spiritual issues were mentioned by the nurses: lack of time, conflict with their mindset, and being reserved to talk about such issues.Conclusions:
During their daily caregiving to patients with a life-threatening illness, nurses have many opportunities to explore spiritual issues, but they do not often recognize them. If they do, they tend not to explore the spiritual issues.Implications for Practice:
Communication training for nurses is necessary to develop skills for exploring the spiritual dimension in patients with cancer. In such training, attention to the misconception that such a conversation requires a lot of time and for recognizing signals from patients inviting an exploration of their concerns is necessary.