Aim: This paper is a report of a study conducted to explore the phenomenon of spirituality and spiritual care among terminally ill Chinese patients.
Background: Meeting a patient's spiritual needs is a fundamental part of holistic nursing care. In the Western literature, spirituality is related to connectedness, faith, and hope. Contemporary scholars in the West suggest that spirituality is a broader term than religion.
Method: Phenomenological interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of 15 terminally ill Chinese patients in 2007.
Findings: Participants found the term spirituality an abstract concept and described it as a unique personal belief which gives strength and relates to meaning of life. Spirituality is integrated with the body and mind and is a multidimensional concept. The acceptance of death as a process in life and 'letting go' leads to serenity and peace of mind. Other important themes include how the meaning of life is derived through relationships and connectedness, self-reflection of responsibilities, and obligations fulfilled. Inner spiritual well-being is attained from having faith and knowing possibilities in life and after death. Participants did not expect nurses to provide spiritual care, but when quality interpersonal care was given it gave them strength and spiritually supportive.
Conclusion: If healthcare professionals can provide a compassionate and loving environment that facilitates acceptance and hope, the spiritual life of patients is enhanced. For dying individuals to experience love and for them to be understood as valuable even when no longer economically productive are both experiences of healing.