Efficacy of a self-study programme to teach spiritual care

J Clin Nurs. 2009 Apr;18(8):1131-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02526.x. Epub 2008 Dec 12.


Aim and objectives: This study investigated the efficacy of a self study programme designed to teach nurses about how to talk with patients about spirituality, and to identify factors predicting this learning. Furthermore, the study investigated whether there were differences in learning between students and practicing clinicians, and between those in a religious or non-religious institution.

Background: Although USA and UK accrediting bodies mandate nurses learn how to assess and support patient spiritual health, there is a paucity of evidence to guide educators regarding how to teach spiritual care to nurses. Indeed, it is unknown if aspects of spiritual care can be taught using formal approaches.

Design: A pretest-posttest pre-experimental design was used to study how attitude toward spiritual care, ability to create empathic verbal responses to expressed spiritual pain, personal spiritual experience, and knowledge about communication for spiritual caregiving changed from before to after programme completion.

Methods: Study participants, 201 nursing students and RNs, independently completed the mailed self-study programme (i.e. workbook with supplemental DVD) and self-report study instruments (i.e. Daily Spiritual Experience Scale, Spiritual Care Perspective Scale-Revised, Response Empathy Scale, Communicating for Spiritual Care Test, and Information about You form).

Results: Significant differences were seen between the before and after scores measuring attitude, ability, spiritual experience, and knowledge. An interaction effect of time between students and registered nurses for both spiritual care attitude and personal spiritual experience was observed.

Conclusions: Findings suggest learning occurred for both students and RNs, regardless of whether they were at a religious institution or not. Relevance to clinical practice. These data indicate that this self-study programme was an effective approach to teach nurses about how to converse with patients about spirituality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Education, Nursing, Continuing / methods
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing / standards*
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Spirituality*
  • United Kingdom