Clinicians' attitudes to spirituality in old age psychiatry.Int Psychogeriatr 2007; 19(5):962-73IP
The aim of this survey is to investigate professional attitudes to the presence and value of spiritual care from Old Age Psychiatrists.
All registered members of the Faculty of the Psychiatry of Old Age in the United Kingdom were asked to complete a 21-question semi-structured questionnaire. The first mail shot took place in 2002 and the second mail shot to non-respondents in 2003. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were carried out on the answers received.
The response rate was 46%. The majority of respondents (92%) recognize the importance of spiritual dimensions of care for older people with mental health needs and about a quarter of respondents appear to consider referring patients to the chaplaincy service. In contrast, integration of spiritual advisors within the assessment and management of individual cases is rare.
Opinions vary as to whether provision of spiritual care should become widely available to older people with mental health needs who are admitted to hospital. Old age psychiatrists recognize that awareness of spiritual dimensions may be important for their patients. They seem less clear about the role of spiritual advisors and how NHS multidisciplinary clinical teams and spiritual and pastoral care services can be best integrated. Much work needs to be done on developing effective training and operational policies in this area.