Spiritual needs and spiritual support preferences of people with end-stage heart failure and their carers: implications for nurse managers

J Nurs Manag. 2015 Jan;23(1):87-95. doi: 10.1111/jonm.12087. Epub 2013 Jul 17.


Background: Spiritual care is an important element of holistic care but has received little attention within palliative care in end-stage heart failure.

Aims: To identify the spiritual needs and spiritual support preferences of end-stage heart failure patients/carers and to develop spiritual support guidelines locally.

Method: Semi-structured interviews (totalling 47) at 3-monthly intervals up to 1 year with 16 end-stage heart failure patients/carers. Focus group/consultation with stakeholders.

Results: Participants were struggling with spiritual/existential concerns alongside the physical and emotional challenges of their illness. These related to: love/belonging; hope; coping; meaning/purpose; faith/belief; and the future. As a patient's condition deteriorated, the emphasis shifted from 'fighting' the illness to making the most of the time left. Spiritual concerns could have been addressed by: having someone to talk to; supporting carers; and staff showing sensitivity/taking care to foster hope. A spiritual support home visiting service would be valued.

Conclusions: Our sample experienced significant spiritual needs and would have welcomed spiritual care within the palliative care package.

Implications for nursing management: Nurse managers could play a key role in developing this service and in leading further research to evaluate the provision of such a service in terms of its value to patients and other benefits including improved quality of life, spiritual wellbeing, reduced loneliness/isolation and a possible reduction in hospital admissions.

Keywords: heart failure; palliative care; qualitative research; spiritual care; spiritual needs; spirituality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Administrators / education
  • Nurse Administrators / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Social Support*
  • Spirituality*
  • Terminal Care / methods*
  • Terminal Care / psychology*