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Spiritual Needs: Managing Challenges


Interviewer (I): Thank you for participating in the interview. You will be asked several questions concerning your recent experience of using nursing services and the nurse’s management of your spiritual needs.

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Participant (P): Sounds good.

I: But first, tell me about yourself.

P: I am an Asian American man, I am 45 years old, and I have a wife and two children.

I: When was the last time that you used nursing services?

P: I realized that I had an unreasonably frequent thirst and hunger. I also developed fatigue and difficulties seeing things. Everything was in a blur. So I went to check my eyesight and expected to be told to reduce the workload, but instead was diagnosed with diabetes type II.

I: I am sorry to hear that. What did you think of the services? Did they meet your spiritual needs?

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P: Not quite. The nurses were very nice and polite, yet they seemed to focus on the Christian beliefs associated with health. For instance, they advised frequently that I asked God for health, which is not how it works in Buddhism (the respondent smiles).

I: Did they provide you with access to the items that you needed to maintain your spirituality?

P: Since Buddhism does not require any specific physical attributes, I guess they did. However, they seemed to be under the delusion that I was Christian (the respondent smiles). It was not in the least offensive, however.

I: I see. Were you satisfied with the outcomes of the treatment process?

P: Yes. I learned a lot about managing diabetes.

I: Thank you for participating in the interview!

P: You are most welcome.

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What Went Well

The interview provided above helped obtain essential information about the current state of nursing care. The detailed clarifications regarding the services that the patient received and the efforts that the nurses made to meet his spiritual needs helped to pinpoint the areas that require further improvements. For example, the fact that the nurses were eager to provide the respondent with the elements that would make the healthcare setting or spiritual deserve appreciation. However, the interview results also indicated the presence of serious issues, particularly, the lack of attention toward culture-specific needs of patients. While the nurses were trying to meet the patient’s spiritual needs, they never bothered to check what these needs constituted and what religious practice the patient followed. As a result, the specified needs were not quite satisfied since the respondent was not given a culture-specific setting to practice his beliefs. Nevertheless, the overall optimistic attitude that the interview participant showed indicated that there was some room for making improvements to the existing situation.

Managing Challenges

The process of handling issues associated with the spiritual needs of patients must start with educating nurses about the need to be culturally sensitive. In the case under analysis, none of the nurses bothered to check the religious concession to which the respondent belonged, hence the confusion. Thus, the process of nurse education has to be launched to encourage nurses to be more sensitive toward their patients and recognize the need to ask about their cultural, religious, and spiritual needs specifically (Pulvirenti, McMillan, & Lawn, 2014). The specified change in the nurse education process will require introducing the concepts of religious and spiritual diversity, as well as the principle of lifelong learning. Based on the latter, nurses will be able to acquire new knowledge and skills regularly.

Tool for Interventions

To implement the suggested intervention, one will have to launch a program aimed at educating nurses. The program will embrace the concepts of cultural diversity, the spiritual needs of people belonging to various religions, and the tools for establishing direct communication with a patient (Hauer et al., 2014). As a result, nurses are expected to develop the flexibility required to address the spiritual needs of different cultural groups properly. The suggested framework will help nurses avoid the scenarios in which they assume the spiritual needs of their patients and, instead, promote the active collaboration between a nurse and a patient (Peter et al., 2015). The specified change is expected to contribute to a drop in the length of patients’ hospital stay, as well as the overall improvement of patient outcomes. Because of the focus on patients’ spiritual needs, nurses will create the setting in which vulnerable populations will feel encouraged to recover.

Illness, Stress, and Spiritual Concern

The interview has also shown that the levels of stress and the disease-related complications may be linked closely to the absence of opportunities for practicing spirituality. In the described scenario, the participant did not develop any complications due to his ability to use a rather scarce amount of resources to retain his spirituality. At the same time, the case also shows the inability of a nurse to provide the required setting in which a patient would not have to deal with hindrances to remain spiritual. The fact that the patient did not develop any comorbid issues as a result of the lack of spiritual setting is indicative of the patient’s resourcefulness and not of the nurse’s skills. Thus, further improvements are required.


Hauer, K. E., ten Cate, O., Boscardin, C., Irby, D. M., Iobst, W., & O’Sullivan, P. S. (2014). Understanding trust is an essential element of trainee supervision and learning in the workplace. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 19(3), 435-456. Web.

Peter, D., Robinson, P., Jordan, M., Lawrence, S., Casey, K., & Salas-Lopez, D. (2015). Reducing readmissions using teach-back: Enhancing patient and family education. Journal of Nursing Administration, 45(1), 35-42. Web.

Pulvirenti, M., McMillan, J., & Lawn, S. (2014). Empowerment, patient-centred care and self‐management. Health Expectations, 17(3), 303-310. Web.

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