Aspects of spirituality concerning illness.Scand J Caring Sci 2007; 21(4):482-9SJ
The spiritual dimension of illness, health and care may be seen as a unique aspect in addition to the physical, mental and social dimension. This contribution describes experiences of patients, nurses and hospital chaplains in relation to the spiritual aspects of being ill. Qualitative research was performed with the design of a focus group study, consisting of 13 focus groups with a total of 67 participants. A purposive sample was used comprising patients, nurses and hospital chaplains working in oncology, cardiology and neurology in different institutions and regions in the Netherlands. The qualitative analysis consisted of open coding and the determining of topics, followed by the subsequent attachment of substantial dimensions and characteristic fragments. Data were analysed by using the computer program KWALITAN. Spirituality play various roles in patients lives during their illness. There is a wide range of topics that may have an individual effect on patients. Despite differences in emphasis, the topics play a role in different patient categories. Although the spiritual topics seem to manifest themselves more clearly in long-term care relationships, they may also play a role during brief admittance periods (such as treatment decisions). The spiritual topics that arise from this study offer caregivers a framework for signalling the spiritual needs of patients. The question is not whether spirituality is a relevant focus area in care, but how and to what degree it plays a role with individual patients. Follow up research should aim at further exploration of spiritual aspects in care, the relationship between spirituality and health and at effective training of caregivers.