Background: The Spiritual Distress Assessment Tool (SDAT) is a 5-item instrument developed to assess unmet spiritual needs in hospitalized elderly patients and to determine the presence of spiritual distress. The objective of this study was to investigate the SDAT psychometric properties.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was performed in a Geriatric Rehabilitation Unit. Patients (N = 203), aged 65 years and over with Mini Mental State Exam score ≥ 20, were consecutively enrolled over a 6-month period. Data on health, functional, cognitive, affective and spiritual status were collected upon admission. Interviews using the SDAT (score from 0 to 15, higher scores indicating higher distress) were conducted by a trained chaplain. Factor analysis, measures of internal consistency (inter-item and item-to-total correlations, Cronbach α), and reliability (intra-rater and inter-rater) were performed. Criterion-related validity was assessed using the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual well-being (FACIT-Sp) and the question "Are you at peace?" as criterion-standard. Concurrent and predictive validity were assessed using the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), occurrence of a family meeting, hospital length of stay (LOS) and destination at discharge.
Results: SDAT scores ranged from 1 to 11 (mean 5.6 ± 2.4). Overall, 65.0% (132/203) of the patients reported some spiritual distress on SDAT total score and 22.2% (45/203) reported at least one severe unmet spiritual need. A two-factor solution explained 60% of the variance. Inter-item correlations ranged from 0.11 to 0.41 (eight out of ten with P < 0.05). Item-to-total correlations ranged from 0.57 to 0.66 (all P < 0.001). Cronbach α was acceptable (0.60). Intra-rater and inter-rater reliabilities were high (Intraclass Correlation Coefficients ranging from 0.87 to 0.96). SDAT correlated significantly with the FACIT-Sp, "Are you at peace?", GDS (Rho -0.45, -0.33, and 0.43, respectively, all P < .001), and LOS (Rho 0.15, P = .03). Compared with patients showing no severely unmet spiritual need, patients with at least one severe unmet spiritual need had higher odds of occurrence of a family meeting (adjOR 4.7, 95%CI 1.4-16.3, P = .02) and were more often discharged to a nursing home (13.3% vs 3.8%; P = .027).
Conclusions: SDAT has acceptable psychometrics properties and appears to be a valid and reliable instrument to assess spiritual distress in elderly hospitalized patients.