Spiritual distress-proposing a new definition and defining characteristics

Int J Nurs Knowl. 2013 Jun;24(2):77-84. doi: 10.1111/j.2047-3095.2013.01234.x. Epub 2013 Mar 7.


Objective: To identify the definition and defining characteristics (DCs) of spiritual distress (00066).

Method: Integrative literature review.

Results: Thirty-seven articles and 35 DCs were identified. Spiritual distress as a response to health problems in the context of nursing care is different from an impaired ability to experience and integrate meaning in life.

Conclusions: The diagnosis misses some DCs that emerged from the literature review and lacks comprehensiveness. The domain and the class are reductionist toward its meaning. The taxonomy lacks a spiritual domain to include this and other diagnoses currently dispersed in other domains.

Implications for practice: Further content and clinical validation is needed, as well as an assessment, to determine the diagnosis' class and domain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nursing Care*
  • Spirituality*
  • Stress, Psychological*