Family Spiritual Assessment


The assessment involved the family of Emily, a 76-year old American female living in an urban neighborhood located six miles from the healthcare facility. Emily is diabetic and has been diagnosed with some early signs of kidney disease. Nevertheless, the kidneys are functioning normally and the patient is active. She goes jogging and other physical activities every morning and evening. She lives with her daughter Isabella and three grandchildren aged between 14 and 23. Emily’s husband was a gulf war veteran, who died 12 years ago. She is also a devoted Christian and attends the local Presbyterian Church, accompanied by the other members of the family.

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The purpose of developing a spiritual assessment is to meet the patient’s spiritual needs, a part of the daily nursing care. The Faith, Importance, Community, and Address (FICA) model has been used in this assessment. A questionnaire is developed and used to obtain information from the patient and her family. Open-ended questions are used to get information about Emily’s personal spiritual beliefs.

Summary of the findings

It has been found that Emily and her family consider themselves spiritual and religious people. Members of Emily’s family have spiritual and religious beliefs that help them cope with Emily’s condition and the associated stress. For instance, the belief in Jesus Christ and God’s work in creating humans, life, and death assures Emily of continued support from God in her diseased state.

Emily says that her faith is the pillar in her life. She says that the belief in God and the work of Jesus in delivering humans is the most important aspect of her life. She highly values her church and church members, especially elderly people in her group and their ministers. Apart from her physical activities, Emily turns to God and the Bible to cope with stress and the reality that she is suffering from a terminal disease.

Emily says that she is a part of a group of elderly people in her church, who support the church in giving spiritual guidance to the younger generations in the church as well as the neighborhood. The group also supports its members, especially those who are suffering, in coping with health, social and financial stresses. Emily says that she would like her healthcare provider to treat her knowing that she is a Christian. She wants the provider to use medical interventions that will not violate the rules of the Bible.

Important discoveries made

Emily prefers to be treated in a hospital that supports aged people. She also prefers to be treated by Christians but can accept people with different beliefs if Christian professionals are not available. She also prefers the nurse to attend to her and consult with the other members of her church group. Emily thinks that it is the will of God to have diseases. She believes that the medications are given to treat her condition, but it is the role of God to heal.

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It was easy to conduct the spiritual assessment because Emily and her family are openly willing to state their belief system and religion. They freely interacted with the assessors. In addition, they answered the questions honestly. They also welcomed the assessor to their local church to meet the other elderly members of her group.

What would you do differently in the future?

While it has been easy to work with Emily, it might be difficult to deal with other people, especially those who are not willing to describe their faith and spirituality due to several reasons. For example, it is often difficult to deal with people who state that they do not have faith or those with strange belief systems who do not want other people to know about them (Borneman, Ferell & Puchalski, 2010).

In this case, it will be important to ensure that the questions are framed in a manner that they do not impart any belief or sign of belief on the patients. Patients will be allowed to state freely what, they think, will guide them rather than making them think from a religious point of view.

Were there any barriers or challenges?

Although the assessment progressed well, some limitations affected the process. For instance, Emily was talkative, jovial, and willing to give extra information. In particular, she wanted the assessor to join her church. She appeared to preach the gospel to the assessor rather than answering the questions. Therefore, it took time to deal with her.

Spiritual experience

It was noted that the spiritual aspect of a person is important in managing health problems (Slater, 2009). For instance, the belief in God and Jesus Christ is an important aspect of managing her condition. When she is in pain, she turns to God and the Bible. She thinks that God knows why she is suffering. Emily believes that death is not a punishment, but a path that leads humans to another life uniting them with God (Rumbold, 2010). As such, it is possible to manage her condition. She also believes that God gave humans knowledge to develop and use the medicine. As such, it is easy to use any drug to manage her condition.

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It was easy to use this approach to manage Emily’s condition. PICA helps a person obtain information from the patients and their families. It guides in planning for the appropriate intervention programs to deal with patients (Meraviglia, Sutter & Gaskamp, 2011).


Borneman, T., Ferell, B., & Puchalski, C. (2010). Evaluation of the FICA tool for spiritual assessment. Journal of pain and symptom management, 40(2), 163-174.

Meraviglia, M., Sutter, R., & Gaskamp, C. D. (2011). Providing spiritual care to terminally ill older adults. J Gerontol Nurs, 34(3), 8-14.

Rumbold, B.D. (2010). Caring for the spirit: lessons from working with the dying. Med J Aust, 179(6), S11-S13.

Slater, V. (2009). What does ‘spiritual care’ now mean to palliative care? Eur J Palliat Care, 14(5), 32-34.


F- Faith, Belief, Meaning Religious/religiosity relates to a person’s beliefs, values, rituals or behaviors associated with a given religious traditions or denomination.
Spirituality relates to the attitudes and beliefs related to nonmaterial forces of life or deity.
Do you consider yourself religious/spiritual?
Are there any religious or spiritual beliefs that provide you with calmness in the moment of stressful situation?
I-Importance and influence
What is the importance of your faith in your life?
What kind of effect do your beliefs cause in decision-making process about your health situation?
C- Community
Are part of a given spiritual/religious group or society or community?
How does this help you?
  1. Address
In your opinion, how should your nurse/clinician use the information about your spirituality when they treat you?
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