How can nurses approach spirituality in their profession?
There is considerable literature dealing with nursing's response to spiritual needs. As a group, nurses are more similar to patients in their religious beliefs and practices than are physicians.1 Furthermore, it is part of nurses' heritage to integrate spirituality into the care they deliver. This response is supported by the American Nurses' Association Standards of Nursing Practice and the American Nurses' Association Code of Ethics for Nurses, documents that identify standards of practice and conduct for the nursing profession as a whole.
In addition, each of the specialty areas in nursing—psychiatric and mental health nursing, home care nursing, emergency nursing—have similar standards of practice. Each of these official documents recognizes the importance of assessing and meeting identified spiritual needs. Furthermore, the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association has
identified " spiritual distress," "risk for spiritual distress," and "readiness for enhanced spiritual well-being" as acceptable diagnoses in identifying the focus of nursing care. The Nursing Interventions Classification identifies "religious ritual enhancement," "religious addiction prevention," and "spiritual support" as appropriate nursing interventions.2 The
Nursing Outcomes Classification includes "spiritual well-being" as an appropriate outcome of nursing intervention.3
So what is nursing's approach to assessing spiritual needs?
Because nurses see patients in many different settings and frequently have more extended contact with patients than many other healthcare professionals, they are encouraged to broaden their approach to assessing spirituality. Certainly, a structured spiritual assessment is necessary.
- Koenig, H. G., et al. (1991), "Religious Perspectives of Doctors, Nurses, Patients, and Families," Journal of Pastoral Care 45(3): 254-267.
- Iowa Intervention Project (2000), Nursing Interventions Classification, 3rd ed., ed. J. C. McCloskey and G. M. Bulechek (St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby).
- Iowa Outcomes Project (2000), Nursing Outcomes Classification, 2nd ed.,ed. M. Johnson and S. Moorhead (St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby), www.nursing.uiowa.edu/centers/cncce/noc.
From Verna Benner Carson and Harold G. Koenig, Spiritual Caregiving: Healthcare as a Ministry (Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press, 2004), 94.