Religion and spirituality now have less and less influence on the life of society. Although early medical institutions focused precisely on providing this kind of care, modern medicine is based on evidence and a rational assessment of the world. However, religion and spirituality still play a significant personal role for many people, providing an opportunity to realize their place in the world and connect with others. Nurses are medical personnel whose primary goal is to provide the most comfortable and holistic patient care possible. Thus, they need to assess the needs of each individual to ensure the most favorable treatment outcome for them. Religious and spiritual practices, including prayer, can help many patients to reduce stress levels and experience less discomfort in unfamiliar surroundings.
Spirituality and religion are integral parts of nursing practice, as these aspects are essential to patients. Although spirituality is a broader term than religion, it is experienced in most cases through religious faith, values , and beliefs (Lalani, 2020). However, this concept, despite its increasing importance, remains difficult to define (Murgia et al., 2020). Medicine is a scientific discipline that relies on evidence and empirical knowledge of the world.
However, nursing is most closely related to the emotional and psychological side of people, which makes it important for such professionals to consider the needs of patients holistically. Eckerd (2017) notes that “nine out of 10 American adults believe Jesus was a real person, and almost two-thirds have made a commitment to Jesus Christ” (p. 1). Thus, while receiving medical care, it is important for many people to experience not only emotional support but also a spiritual one since religion is incorporated into their picture of the world.
Spirituality can be an irrational and unreliable aspect of human cognition that has a significant impact on life. Researchers suggest that spiritual practices and religious beliefs also influence people’s well-being and health (as cited in Eckerd, 2017). People often feel the need to speculate about subjects they may not know for sure. Timmins & Caldeira (2017) define spirituality as “s the notion that people strive to make sense of, and derive meaning from, life events and seek to connect with the self, others and their community” (p. 51).
Thus, a person can have his own picture of the perception of the world, which is dictated by religious beliefs and determines his or her spirituality. The concept allows patients to experience a sense of meaning, connection with the medical staff, and faith in recovery. Although spirituality is not equal to religiosity, it can contain elements of religious beliefs.
Religion is identified with a set of specific practices which have their own meaning and presuppose certain beliefs. It is able to form a person’s ideas about the world, his position in it, and connections with others, as well as direct moral actions. Spirituality, on the contrary, does not have a systemic character and arises on the basis of a personal experience and beliefs (Timmins & Caldeira, 2017). Both concepts can help people cope with difficult situations and build an understanding of the idea of life after death. Particularly in the healthcare setting, religion and spirituality play an important role, for example, when a person learns of a serious diagnosis or experiences loss.
The debate about the need to incorporate such support into health care is open. First of all, Western society is now experiencing less influence of spirituality and religion in all areas of life. However, as multiculturalism spreads, it is necessary to meet the needs of many people with diverse beliefs. Patients and their relatives may experience discomfort in the hospital, as they are in an unfamiliar environment and stressful situation. The disease may be for many a personal spiritual experience, for which they will be forced to mobilize their inner resources. Thus, nurses need to provide patients with this support if the patient needs it.
Simon, Hodges, and Schoonover-Shoffner (2019) give an interesting example of how prayer helped calm an irritated patient with Bipolar II Disorder. The nurse managed to distract his attention from the lost ID card, after which the situation was safely resolved. The patient needed spiritual support, and the nurse did not refuse him but provided assistance, which had a significant positive impact on his well-being.
Religion is often a humanistic philosophy of moral acting, while spiritual and ethical values are the foundation of nursing practice. A particular technique such as prayer is only part of a more holistic approach to providing highly effective patient care. More broadly, for nurses, “basic assessment of spiritual needs, presence, therapeutic communication, caring touch, active listening, prayer, and referral as spiritual care interventions are encouraged” (Eckerd, 2017).
Thus, the professional must consider all the needs of the patient, including religious and spiritual, in order to achieve the most favorable treatment outcomes. It is important to evaluate the ways in which medical staff can make a hospital stay the most comfortable for a person. Regardless of the personal religious beliefs of the nurse, he or she can pray with the patient if it will positively affect his or her well-being. Talking about faith and spirituality can motivate the patient to feel more positive about their condition and reduce stress, which will also improve the quality of care.
Religion and spirituality may be, for some people, the main method of knowing the world and themselves, which must be considered when providing assistance. The nurse must evaluate all the needs of the patient to ensure the most comfortable hospital stay for him or her. Thus, various spiritual practices, in particular prayer, can help the person cope with a difficult diagnosis and reduce stress, which is necessary for effective treatment.
Eckerd, N. (2017). A nursing practice model based on Christ: The Agape Model. Journal of Christian Nursing, 35(2), 124-130. Web.
Lalani, N. (2020). Meanings and interpretations of spirituality in nursing and health. Religions, 11(9), 1-14. Web.
Murgia, C., Notarnicola, I., Rocco, G., & Stievano, A. (2020). Spirituality in nursing: A concept analysis. Nursing Ethics, 27(5), 1327-1343. Web.
Simon, E. B., Hodges, R., & Schoonover-Shoffner, K. (2019). Experiencing God in nursing. Journal of Christian Nursing, 37(2), 94-99. Web.
Timmins, F., & Caldeira, S. (2017). Understanding spirituality and spiritual care in nursing. Nursing Standard, 31(22), 50-57. Web.