Question: Do you currently practice a religion? If so, which one?
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Answer: I have been practicing Mainline Protestant Christianity for most of my life, including the present.
Question: What type of spiritual support do you desire when ill?
Answer: I do not believe I need significant spiritual support when I am sick, as I can pray by myself. However, if I were severely ill and near death, I think I would begin giving more thought to the afterlife and request a priest to help me resolve questions and answer my doubts.
Question: What would you consider to be the goals of your spiritual activities?
Answer: I believe that following the teachings of the Bible will help me become a better person. As I improve myself spiritually, I will commit more good deeds and avoid sins and atone for those I have already committed. If I achieve that, I will be satisfied with my life here and perhaps pass on to Heaven.
Question: Does religion significantly influence your behavior or mood when you are ill?
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Answer: I do not believe there is a considerable influence, though I attempt to keep my negative emotions contained. I think that taking my frustrations out on other people would go against my religious belief, and I know that I become more likely to do it when ill, so I try to control my words and actions.
Question: What does dying mean to you?
Answer: I view dying as a disappearance, a stopping of one’s existence on Earth. I do not know what awaits a person after he or she passes on, but I think that losing the ability to interact with everything and everyone you leave behind is a scary concept. I believe that after one dies, everything he or she did in the past is no longer relevant to him or her, but that idea motivates me to live as best I can so that I am satisfied with the way I lived my life while I still care about it.
The interviewee is a 27 years old white Mainline Protestant male. He has never been severely ill, although he underwent several hospitalizations in the past. I used the resources provided by The Joint Commission (2018) and the Spiritual Competency Resource Center (n.d.) to formulate the questions presented in my tool. I believe the interview went well, as the interviewee was willing to respond to questions fully and truthfully. The process went smoothly, without miscommunications or issues that were too complicated to answer. As a result, I was able to complete the survey and learn valuable information about the interview partner.
However, I feel that the tool is still incomplete and should be refined in the future. If I were to try to make the questions more appropriate for palliative care, I would have to change some of them, particularly the third one. The respondent’s youth and outlook on life may have motivated his answer, but I feel that the question may be inappropriate for people who expect to die shortly. Furthermore, I believe that adding more items that are directly relevant to care, such as how the patient’s faith helps him or her cope with his or her illness, would improve the tool’s effectivity in palliative care settings. The questionnaire likely has other disadvantages, but those did not manifest themselves in the present interview.
This tool can help me provide the appropriate interventions for the patient by helping me determine the areas, topics, and providers of proper support. It allows me to learn the patient’s religion, goals, and desired comfort methods. I can then administer appropriate spiritual material or ask the correct religious specialist for assistance. Furthermore, by learning the patient’s opinion of their behavior when he or she is ill, I can act in a manner that allows him or her to avoid displaying the traits he or she considers detrimental. Lastly, by learning of the patient’s approach to the end of life and death, I can adopt an appropriate attitude when interacting with him or her and engage more closely without unnecessarily contradicting his or her opinions on sensitive matters.
I did not discover that illness significantly increased my interviewee’s spiritual needs and concerns. However, he stated that the situation could change if he were severely ill, as the threat to his life could make him consider death and afterlife more closely. In his day-to-day life and during periods of sickness that did not threaten him with permanent harm, he has viewed his religion as a path of self-improvement and concerned himself with the present. The interviewee did not state that stress made him seek spiritual aid, either. I believe that it is not the case, as I think the situation follows a similar logic to illness, where the person would not consider religion a source of spiritual relief unless he were under heavy pressure.
I was able to successfully construct a spiritual assessment tool and conduct an interview with a friend. During the discussion and the subsequent analysis of the interviewee’s responses, I discovered that my questions should be modified for use in palliative care settings to address more direct care concerns. Nevertheless, I believe that the tool is appropriate and can help me determine proper methods and interventions as well as interact with the patients more freely without upsetting them. I did not discover whether the interviewee’s spiritual needs increase during illness or stress due to his inexperience with such situations, but we both consider it possible. Overall, the experience helped me understand the outlooks people have on the end of life and religion and prepare for work in palliative care.
The Joint Commission. (2018). Medical record – Spiritual assessment. Web.
Spiritual Competency Resource Center. (n.d.). Assessing spirituality. Web.