Spiritual Needs Assessment Role in Health Care

Despite the professional awareness of the importance of spiritual needs assessment in medicine, it can often be overlooked by medical employees. The information acquired during the assessment can be instrumental in understanding the spiritual worldview of the patient as well as providing better efforts of support and care. Moreover, spiritual assessment can help health care staff to find out whether the patient has any unresolved concerns or needs in terms of spirituality. The process of the treatment and coping psychologically can be complicated when a patient is experiencing spiritual distress (Richards, n.d., p.1).

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Interviewer: Hello, how are you doing? Would you mind if I ask some questions about your faith background?

Patient: Hello, I’m fine, thanks. Sure, ask away. What do you want to know?

Interviewer: Do you have any spiritual beliefs that help you with daily struggles like stress or depression?

Patient: I’m afraid I do not. I wish I had some belief in me that will fuel my constant struggles, but I just see no point in them.

Interviewer: I understand. Apart from religious beliefs, what are your sources of comfort and peace?

Patient: I find comfort in my friends and family as they are always ready to support me and do anything in their power to make me happy. I’ve had health problems all my life and was constantly in-and-out of hospitals, but they were always nearby and took care of me.

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Interviewer: As you do not have any specific spiritual or faith preferences, is there a way in which any member of the medical staff or I can offer you support?

Patient: To be honest, I would like to be treated like a grown-up. I don’t need nurses or other caretakers to come up to check on me constantly. I’m fine by myself, but when I need help, I ask for it, it is that simple.

Interviewer: How would you like me to address the issues discussed in this interview in your treatment?

Patient: I would like you to understand that I am just a person who needs some medical treatment regardless of my religious beliefs or the lack of them. Thank you for your questions.


The person interviewed was a nineteen-year-old American male who seemed to have no interest in any spiritual beliefs and answered the questions pretty quickly and without any emotions. The successful part of the interview was the fact that the patient was willing to share his experiences and did not get offended by the questions he simply told everything the way it was. In future interviews, it would be better to adapt the questions to the personality of the patient so that everything goes smoothly.

The main challenge in completing the assessment tool lay in the fact that the patient had no spiritual background, and the majority of questions in the assessment tool are targeted towards discussing religious views. In the future, a bigger set of questions should be composed, including religion-related and non-related to religion questions. The patient opened with his problems and talked about his family, which was the most pleasant experience.

This allowed an understanding that the patient has big support from his background, and the medical staff plays a lesser role in supporting his along with the treatment. My interviewee was stressed because of the treatment and not because of any spiritual concerns. For example, he said that he had health issues all of his life but did not seek any comfort in religion; his family supported him no matter what.

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Despite the fact that the interviewee had no religious beliefs, it is important, so say a few words about the Spiritual Needs Assessment, as other patients may be of different religions and have different spiritual backgrounds. The Joint Commission requires health organizations to conduct a spiritual assessment as a part of the overall patient assessment. This is done to determine how the spiritual outlook of the patient can be in the way of the treatment, care, and services provided by the health institution. At the minimum, the spiritual assessment should identify the spiritual affiliation of the patient (if any exists), as well as any other practices or beliefs important to the patient (Evaluating Your Spiritual Assessment Process, 2005, para. 3).

Assessing the spirituality of the patient and integrating their beliefs into healthcare can be beneficial in building trust in the patient-physician relationship (Eldridge, 2007, p. 51). The most important practical outcome of the assessment can be the patient’s compliance with the lifestyle changes or therapeutic procedures recommended by the physician. Moreover, the spiritual needs assessment can also help the patient recognize some struggles that often affect their help. Addressing these emotional or spiritual struggles may help find an effective way of healing and coping. Physicians that deal with incurable diseases in their patients may find some ways of providing comfort for their patients as well as increase their professional satisfaction (Sagul & Phelps, 2012, p. 546).


Eldridge, C. (2007). Meeting you patients’ spiritual needs. American Nurse Today, 2(10), 51-52. Web.

Evaluating Your Spiritual Assessment Process. (2005). Web.

Richards, S. (n.d.). Discerning Patient Needs: Spiritual Assessment Perspectives for Health Care Chaplains. Web.

Sagul, A., & Phelps, K. (2012). The Spiritual Assessment. American Family Physician, 86(6), 546-550. Web.

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