NURSES' PERCEPTIONS OF SPIRITUALITY AND SPIRITUAL CARE
Oswald, Kim Diane
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The problem: Spirituality and spiritual care are vital components of holistic healthcare (body, mind, and spirit). The rise in technological advances, the ongoing time constraints, and the continued shortage of nurses hinder the provision of holistic healthcare. Nursing faculty acknowledge current educational programs provide limited training in the areas of spirituality and spiritual care. Such dilemmas warrant further exploration of nurses' perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care within healthcare. Methodology: A descriptive, survey design was used to elicit responses from nursing professionals in two Midwestern healthcare settings. Perceptions of nurses were investigated using the Spirituality and Spiritual Care Rating Scale (SSCRS) developed by Wilfred McSherry (2000). A total of 533 nurses out of 612 completed the survey for a response rate of 87%. Data were analyzed using both means and standard deviations. Statistical tests for significance using analysis of variance (p = .05) were completed in three areas including the nurses' location of practice, length of service, and educational training. Findings: Research outcomes found nurses' perception of spiritual care were clearly identified while perceptions of spirituality were uncertain. The research demonstrated statistically significant differences in the nurses' perceptions of spirituality based upon years of service within the profession. Nurses' perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care did not differ statistically based upon the location of practice (sectarian versus nonsectarian) or the educational level of the nurse. Conclusions: Findings from this study suggest that nurse have a solid understanding of spiritual care giving practices. Outcomes from this study also suggest as nurses progress through their career their perceptions of spirituality become more defined. The location of practice and educational level of the nurse had no effect upon nurses' perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care. Recommendations: Additional studies, employing quantitative and qualitative research methods in multiple healthcare settings, may lend further credence to better understanding the concept of spirituality and spiritual care from the nursing perspective. Further research may also focus upon identifying individual differences in nurses' perceptions regarding spirituality and spiritual care from the nursing perspective through qualitative interview processes.