descriptive survey, hospice, nursing, qualitative research, spirituality



  1. Belcher, Anne PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN
  2. Griffiths, Margaret MSN, RN, AOCN


An increasing focus on holism in healthcare has resulted in nurses' efforts to examine the concept of spirituality and the delivery of spiritual care in a systematic manner. Evidence exists that many nurses misconstrue patients' needs for spiritual care, possibly because spirituality was not a focus in their basic nursing curricula or they lack personal spiritual resources upon which to draw. This study was undertaken to determine the extent to which nurses in hospice settings, in contrast to nurses in other specialty care areas, personally express spiritual values and integrate spiritual care into their role. This population of professionals was selected for investigation because the principal focus of care within this environment is on end-of-life issues and, consequently, necessitates a significant concentration on meeting patient and family spiritual needs. The research design was a descriptive approach using qualitative techniques that addressed issues and questions related to personal and professional expressions of spirituality, and that elicited information about hospice nurses' spiritual practices and their ability to apply their spiritual values to patient care. Using membership lists from the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, demographic data were collected and analyzed with the help of descriptive statistics. Spiritual practice and expression data were analyzed using a content analysis method to measure the frequency, order, and/or intensity of the responses. This article summarizes the themes identified by the study participants and defines their relationship to spiritual care provided within hospice settings.