Exploring Nurse Communication About Spirituality

Elaine Wittenberg, Sandra L. Ragan, Betty Ferrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-571
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Volume34
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Spirituality
Nurses
Communication
Nonverbal Communication
Quality of Health Care
Palliative Care
Health Personnel
Curriculum
Patient Care
Emotions
Nursing

Keywords

  • communication
  • qualitative study
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Exploring Nurse Communication About Spirituality. / Wittenberg, Elaine; Ragan, Sandra L.; Ferrell, Betty.

In: American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Vol. 34, No. 6, 01.07.2017, p. 566-571.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Wittenberg, Elaine ; Ragan, Sandra L. ; Ferrell, Betty. / Exploring Nurse Communication About Spirituality. In: American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. 2017 ; Vol. 34, No. 6. pp. 566-571.
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