Calvary University

 Faculty of Health Care

Spiritual Care:
    Nursing Theory, Research, and Practice

Book Cover

1st Edition

Elizabeth Johnston Taylor
296 pages

Brief Description

Appropriate for courses addressing issues and trends, spirituality and health, or psychosocial approaches to care.

This text provides practical guidance on many aspects of spiritual caregiving. It addresses many relevant topics including spiritual assessment, planning care, documentation, ethical concerns of sharing personal spiritual beliefs, and numerous approaches to nurturing the spirit.


  • Balanced presentation of religion as both a positive and a negative factor influencing health and coping.
    Introduces students to material in a manner that is sensitive to diverse spiritual beliefs.
  • Two-tiered approach to assessment.
    Encourages students to be empathetic listeners and identify spiritual need (first tier) and then, if necessary, follow up with more extensive assessment (second tier).
  • Chapter-ending Look Within to Learn features.
    Encourages spiritual self-awareness and understanding of how personal spirituality influences clinical care.
  • Research Profiles boxed features.
    Provides students with profiles of a research study conducted by a nurse on the topic of spirituality and health.
  • One Nurse's Story boxed features.
    Illustrates for students a nurse's perspective of concepts and clinical examples of spiritual caregiving.
  • Key points at end of each chapter.
    Summarizes the material presented to help reinforce students' learning.
  • Total of 53 boxes



1. What Is Spirituality?
2. Foundations for Spiritual Caregiving.
3. Spiritual Self-Awareness and Client Care.


4. Communicating Support for Spiritual Health.
5. Spiritual Assessment.
6. Nursing Care for Spiritual Needs.
7. Spiritual Support for Clients Searching for Meaning.
8. The Role of the Nurse in Collaborating with Spiritual Care Professionals.


9. Supporting Spiritual Health through Ritual.
10. Facilitating Religious Practices.
11. Nurturing Spirituality.


Spirituality in the context of health is reemerging in public and professional arenas as an essential and vital component of health care. As evidenced by mandates from national as well as local organizations, nurses are increasingly expected to incorporate the spiritual dimension within their care. Because spirituality represents an innate, integral dimension of all human beings, to nurse the whole client we must also nurse the spirit.

Nursing literature has addressed the topic of spirituality primarily in theoretical and conceptual terms, and its inability to offer practical guidance to support the provision of spiritual care has created a gap in our nursing knowledge. This text aims to fill this gap by providing practical guidance on many aspects of spiritual caregiving. Practice, however, must be supported by theory and research. The practice suggestions offered in this book follow from theory and research in nursing as well as other related disciplines.

Because of the deeply significant and often private nature of spirituality, communicating with clients about their spiritual needs requires sensitivity. Consideration of the role of the nurse with regards to spiritual matters raises important questions. Beyond offering the significant expertise of empathic listening and presencing, what role should the nurse play?

This text asserts that every nurse should strive to attain competence in the provision of sensitive, effective, and individualized spiritual care. To be effective, this care should incorporate the two-tiered approach to assessment presented in Chapter 5. If a spiritual need is identified during an initial, brief assessment (first tier), more extensive assessment follows (second tier). At any point, the nurse may conclude that a client does not require spiritual care, or requires it from a chaplain or other spiritual care expert. When referral is warranted, the client will still benefit from the nurse who provides the most basic spiritual care "interventions" of presencing and empathic listening.

For many clients, assessment will reveal some manifestation of spiritual need or the opportunity for enhancing spiritual well-being. These clients will benefit from nursing care that incorporates the spiritual care interventions presented in this book. This text presents varied approaches and a number of spiritual care interventions from which the nurse can select in order to address client needs. As with other areas of nursing practice, a nurse's ability to provide effective spiritual care will improve with practice.

An expression of spirituality, religion also is often a bridge to experiencing spirituality. Many nurses profess a religious orientation, which can enhance awareness of and sensitivity to client spiritual needs. The nurse's religious background may in some cases also create bias that can interfere with effective care. This text encourages the nurse to recognize that personal beliefs affect care and to develop and sustain awareness of personal beliefs in order to enhance the effectiveness of spiritual care. This text also embraces the position that nurses will derive significant benefits from engaging in activities that promote their own spiritual health.

Just as a scientific study is influenced by the context under which it is conducted, a book's approach will be influenced by the worldview of its author. The author, who has endeavored to present spirituality in a manner sensitive to diverse spiritual experiences, acknowledges a religio-cultural background that is Western and Judeo-Christian. Furthermore, the research and nursing literature available represents, for the most part, a similar framework. Sensitivity and appreciation for diversity can help to overcome limitations created by this or any other bias.

One way to show religio-cultural sensitivity is to refer to centuries as either being Before the Common Era (B.c.E.) or in the Common Era (c.E.), a generic way to refer to what Christians would consider anno Domini (A.D., or a year in the Christian era). This book, therefore, uses B.c.E. and c.E. to designate dates.

This text is organized into three sections. Part I explores spirituality in nursing in order to establish a basis for Part II, which addresses nursing practice issues and strategies that support spiritual caregiving, and Part III, which presents specific interventions for promoting client spiritual health.

Several features enhance learning about spiritual care. Boxes accompany the narrative to extend learning by synthesizing information and to illustrate concepts through examples such as case studies or nursing care plans. Research Profiles summarize studies and their relevance to practice. One Client's/Nurse's Story is a feature that illustrates the application of principles of spiritual care. Each chapter concludes with Key Points to support content review and Look Within to Learn questions to encourage the development of self-awareness. Highlighted references identify literature that is likely to be especially helpful to the reader who desires further knowledge.

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