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By Verna Benner Carson and Harold G. Koenig, editors


422 pp., West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton, 2008, $34.95, paperback.


Review: This highly anticipated revision of Carson's Spiritual Dimensions of Nursing Practice, first published in 1989, does not disappoint. Carson has a profound way of discussing spirituality, suggesting "spirituality defines the best in health care[horizontal ellipsis]spirituality infuses the work we do with love, compassion, and a sense of gratitude for being participants in God's healing work" (p. viii). She explores multiple views of spirituality, acknowledging it is an elusive concept to define while summarizing spirituality as "a universal human dimension that expresses itself through relationships, creativity, emotions, physical modalities, religion, and worldviews" (p. 1). Her compelling style puts into words what many of us intuit and experience in nursing. For example, Carson explains, "In addition to the respectful and competent meeting of health care needs, one of the greatest gifts that any of us can offer patients is a rich, living spiritual connection, if the patient desires. This gift of one's true self given in care to the patient experiencing a health crisis will inevitably help to support the patient's spiritual well-being" (p. 30).

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The interrelationships between spirituality, religion, and healthcare are thoroughly explored. Koenig offers research evidence showing connections between religion, spirituality, and health. Carson explains beliefs and practices of various religions (theistic and eastern pantheism), offers insight into how these religions impact healthcare and decision-making, and explores the identification and meeting of spiritual needs. Other authors discuss legal issues surrounding religion and healthcare, and spiritual care in various populations (children, adolescents, adults, chronic illness, elder care, in death and bereavement) and settings (community, organizations, education, work life). This book is broad and yet specific, all-encompassing yet insightful about spirituality in healthcare and in life. Although nurses are the primary focus of the book, application goes beyond nursing; and beyond practice to education and research. Reflective activities offer opportunity for self-exploration and development. As with earlier editions, Spiritual Dimensions promises to be another prized reference book. -KSS