1. Howard-Canning, Carrie MS, RN, CMSRN, OCN

Article Content


The purpose of this study was to define spirituality and to investigate the acute care registered nurses' use of spirituality in the clinical setting. An additional purpose was to further explore acute care registered nurses' perceptions of behaviors that represent spirituality in the clinical setting by asking the following research questions: (1) how is spirituality defined by acute care registered nurses? (2) Are practices to promote spiritual well-being used by acute care nurses employed in hospital settings when caring for patients? If so, how? If not, why? (3) What examples of spiritual practice can acute care registered nurses provide from their clinical practice?



On a daily basis, acute care nurses interact with patients and families of patients who may experience stress, loss, illness, or trauma during their hospitalization. Little research has been done related to investigating acute care nurses' definitions of spirituality and to whether or not nurses integrate spirituality into their clinical practice.



A qualitative research method, specifically, and an interpretive phenomenological approach utilizing Colaizzi's 9-step method were used to collect these data. This phenomenological inquiry sought to study the lived experience of acute care nurses and their definitions of spirituality as they care for their patients and families.



After obtaining institutional review board approval, the study was initiated. A convenience sample of 73 acute care registered nurses was invited to participate in the study. Participation was voluntary. The final sample included 16 participants who were divided into 5 separate focus groups. Each focus group interview was conducted, with the outlined research questions being asked in an informal, open-ended format. Interviewing continued until the point of saturation.



From the 3 research questions asked, one overarching theme emerged: presence. This theme represents the essence and definition, use, and personal experiences of spirituality in the acute care setting. Additional themes that are interrelated and overaarching to the primary theme of presence include (a) comfort and caring, (b) connection, (c) higher power, and (d) positive feelings toward self, patients, and healthcare environment.



This study aided in illuminating the uses and personal experiences of acute care registered nurses who use spirituality for this vulnerable population. This research also assisted in defining and identifying the knowledge in relation to spirituality in the acute care setting, thus adding to the body of knowledge already known to the nursing profession.


Implications for Practice:

The findings in this study illustrate the importance of spirituality in the acute care setting and demonstrate how strongly acute care nurses feel about physical presence, a higher power, and making a connection with patients and families. These findings may assist the profession of nursing in developing a common definition of spirituality and in illuminating the role and personal experiences of the acute care registered nurse who provides spirituality to this vulnerable population.


Section Description

The 2009 NACNS National Conference will be held in St Louis, Missouri, on March 5 to 7. More than 350 clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), graduate faculty, nurse administrators, nurse researchers, and graduate students are registered. This year's theme, "Clinical Nurse Specialists: Vision, Value, Voice," demonstrates the essential leadership skills of the CNS as well as the CNS role in implementing evidence-based practice.


Seventy abstracts were selected for either podium or poster presentations. Again, this year, there is a CNS student poster session. The abstracts addressed CNS practice in 3 practice domains (spheres of influence), emphasizing patient safety and quality care outcomes, leadership, evidence-based practice, and new ways to shape CNS practice. Topics include CNS work activities incorporated into 3 spheres of influence-patients, nursing practice, organization/system-including the development of clinical inquiry skills among staff nurses, use of simulation technology, strategies to maintain clinical excellence, CNS practice in end-of-life care decisions, and many new and thoughtful ideas to support CNS education, practice, and research. Collectively, the abstracts represent the breadth, depth, and richness of the CNSs' contribution to the well-being of individuals, families, communities, as well as to the advancement of the nursing profession.


The conference abstracts were published here to facilitate sharing this emerging new knowledge with those who were unable to attend the conference. As you read each abstract, appreciate the intellectual talent and clinical scholarship of your CNS colleagues who are advancing the practice of nursing and contributing to the health of society through improved outcomes for patients and healthcare organizations. We encourage you to contact individual presenters to network, collaborate, consult, or share your thoughts and ideas on the conference topics. Watch out for next year's call for abstracts and consider submitting for presentation at NACNS' next annual conference in Portland, Oregon, on March 4 to 6, 2010.