Posted: February 21st, 2023
The use of spirituality in nursing practice occurs mainly in two directions: patients’ needs for spirituality, and assessing the spirituality of those who care for patients. To date, the identification of spiritual needs uses many tools that are more or less effective. For example, SDAT determines whether a patient has sufficient spiritual resources that allow them to overcome illness (Monod et al., 2010). This tool evaluates spirituality according to four criteria, which include transcendence, meaning, personal human values, and psychosocial identity. The researchers have confirmed the practicality, effectiveness, and acceptability of using SDAT to determine the existence of spiritual distress in patients. There are also tools such as FICA, HOPE, and SPIRIT, each with its own rating scale (VHA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, 2017). In particular, FICA, one of the most common tools, allows understanding of how an individual’s self-care depends on their beliefs, things that help them cope with difficulties, the surrounding society, and the role of teamwork in coping with stress. In turn, HOPE examines what gives a person hope, what personal spiritual practices they have, and how these practices affect their needs. At the same time, HOPE is also religiously oriented. Finally, the SPIRIT tool is similar to HOPE in that it also focuses on some religious issues and themes. For example, it determines the significance of religion for a person in the context of medical care and the presence of significant rituals in their lives.
However, these three tools have varying degrees of effectiveness, as confirmed in the study by Blaber et al. (2015). The authors have concluded that HOPE is a more practical and comprehensive tool that allows covering both the religious component of people’s lives and their basic spiritual needs, unlike FICA, which sets out the needs in less detail, and unlike SPIRIT, in which religion comes to the fore. However, there are disputes regarding FICA. For example, Borneman et al. (2010) show that FICA is optimal for use in clinical practice, as it allows identifying a patient’s problems and spiritual needs, which is then used in nursing practice to improve the quality of life of this person. In addition, the best adaptive abilities for use in clinical practice are found in tools such as FACIT-Sp, and The Spirituality Index of Well-being (Monod et al., 2011). Finally, it is necessary to mention SpSup, another important tool that evaluates human knowledge about spiritual practices in the treatment and care of patients (Fopka-Kowalczyk et al., 2022).
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Overall, the use of spirituality in nursing practice is essential for addressing patients’ needs beyond physical care. Spirituality provides a holistic approach to healthcare and allows patients to find meaning and purpose in their lives, even in the face of illness and suffering.
The tools mentioned, such as SDAT, FICA, HOPE, and SPIRIT, can help nurses and other healthcare professionals assess patients’ spiritual needs and provide appropriate interventions. However, it is important to recognize that spirituality is a deeply personal and individual experience, and no single tool can capture the entirety of a patient’s spiritual beliefs and practices.
Nurses must approach spiritual assessment with sensitivity and respect, acknowledging that patients may have different cultural and religious backgrounds that influence their beliefs and values. It is also crucial to avoid imposing one’s beliefs or values on the patient and to provide non-judgmental support and guidance based on the patient’s individual needs and preferences.
Moreover, it is also important to assess the spirituality of nurses and other healthcare professionals, as their own spiritual well-being can impact their ability to provide compassionate care. Nurses who are spiritually grounded may be better equipped to cope with the emotional and psychological challenges of caring for patients with serious illnesses and to provide holistic care that addresses patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
In conclusion, spirituality is an essential aspect of nursing practice that allows nurses to provide holistic care that addresses patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. The use of assessment tools such as SDAT, FICA, HOPE, and SPIRIT can help nurses identify patients’ spiritual needs and provide appropriate interventions. However, nurses must approach spiritual assessment with sensitivity and respect, acknowledging the individuality of each patient’s spiritual experience.
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