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Nursing has historically realized the importance of spirituality in patient care, and more than other healthcare staff, they also have recognized the integral role of chaplains in meeting the spiritual needs of patients. The present study examines specific patient and family issues for which nurses make referrals to chaplains. A previously piloted questionnaire asking how often nurses and allied staff refer patients to chaplains was distributed to 133 staff members at a New York area hospital, the majority of whom were registered nurses (RNs). ANOVA revealed significant differences with respect to the kinds of issues that nurses are likely to refer to chaplains, with referrals being most likely for family issues and least likely for treatment-related issues. A significant interaction between staff type (nurses vs allied staff) and issues was also found. The results are discussed in relation to the nurses' desire to meet patients' spiritual needs and how this can be achieved.
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