An integrative review of the concept of spirituality in the health sciences

West J Nurs Res. 2004 Jun;26(4):405-28. doi: 10.1177/0193945904263411.


Spirituality is a universal human phenomenon, yet confusion and incomprehension of the concept is ever-present. The purpose of this study was to explore how research on the concept of spirituality has been reported in the health literature in the past decade and develop an ontological and theoretical understanding of spirituality. The examination was based on quantitative and qualitative integrative review approaches, which integrated empirical research on spirituality. The sample included 73 spirituality research articles, which were published in English between January 1990 and September 2000. An electronic data-collection tool was designed for use in this project and formatted using Excel software for transfer of coded data into the NVivo software for the data analysis. The results identified essential elements of spirituality, current use of operational definitions and instruments, conceptual frameworks used in spirituality research, and cultural aspects of spirituality. Historical comparison among decades and barriers in researching spirituality are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Culture
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Research Design*
  • Spirituality*
  • Terminology as Topic