Spiritual Needs Assessment in Healthcare

Spirituality, as an “inner belief system”, is an important part of patients’ life, which helps to understand their needs better (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, 2005, p. 7). To prove this, I reviewed different tools for spirituality needs assessment, particularly HOPE questions, Open Invite Mnemonic, and the FACT approach (LaRocca-Pitts, 2012; Saguil & Phelps, 2012). I also used the information from the article by Galek, Flannelly, Vane, and Galek (2005). After that, I came up with my own survey. Then, an interview with a forty-five years old Christian woman was conducted. The results and analysis are presented in the paper below.

The Interview Transcript

Interviewer: May I ask you about your spiritual needs and inner beliefs?

Interviewee: Sure, you may.

Interviewer: Okay, to start with, do you have any religious preference? Would you describe yourself as a religious person?

Interviewee: Yes, I am a Christian, and I would describe myself as a true believer.

Interviewer: Do you belong to any religious community of Christianity?

Interviewee: No, I do not feel the need, frankly.

Interviewer: Why?

Interviewee: For me, religion is something very personal, the source of hope, faith, and inner peace. I do not need to belong to any community to feel that. Surely, I still go to the local church regularly.

Interviewer: So, you would say that Christianity is your source of hope, strength, and comfort, wouldn’t you?

Interviewee: Yes, that is right. I also find it in my family, my hobby and passion, which is arts, and nature, sometimes. But all those things are closely connected to religion at a closer look.

Interviewer: Do you have your personal spiritual beliefs?

Interviewee: Surely, a lot of them. I believe in inner peace and inner good. I am sure that everyone is good by nature. Similarly, people are happy by nature – we just need to realize that. We need to understand that the journey itself is better than the destination. I am also sure that we are not alone, and everyone has his or her soul mates, who can be found in friends, spouses, children, and even complete strangers.

Interviewer: Great things to believe in! Finally, as for your medical situation, do your religion and spirituality help you to cope with illnesses and stresses? If so, how exactly?

Interviewee: Sure, they do. I believe that God does not give us more than we can handle. That gives me strength and hope to cope with my medical problems.

Interviewer: That is really good to hear! I wish all of us had such strength as you do. Thank you for the interview!

Analysis of the Interview

In general, I would conclude that the interview went well. My interviewee was attentive, ready to cooperate, interested in the conversation and even excited about it. Since the woman’s beliefs bring her a lot of positive feelings and thoughts, our conversation has been pleasant for her. It was great to see the twinkle in her eyes while we were talking. Also, she seemed really sincere.

With a lot of data available on the Internet, including both theoretical information and various assessment tools to use in practice, it was not hard for me to come up with my own set of questions. So, no challenges or problems were here. Using Open Invite Mnemonic described in Saguil and Phelps’s (2012) article, I decided to start the conversation with the first question in the transcript (May I ask you about your spiritual needs and inner beliefs?).

That opened the door to the conversation and made the interviewee feel involved and valued. The next several questions (about religious preference and religious community the woman does or does not belong to) are inspired by the HOPE tool, particularly the section O, which stands for the organized religion (Saguil & Phelps, 2012). Then, I asked the woman about personal spiritual beliefs, which is both mentioned in the HOPE set of questions (section P, personal spirituality and practices) and discussed in details in the article by Galek et al. (2005).

Finally, the FACT tool was used: the interviewee was asked how her spirituality affected her medical condition and whether or not it helped her to deal with illnesses and stresses (LaRocca-Pitts, 2012). Then, since the woman was positive about her medical condition and said that her religion did help her to cope with illnesses, I supported and encouraged her, as LaRocca-Pitts (2012) recommended to do. Considering this, I can say that health problems only amplify the spiritual concerns of my interviewee, instead of weakening those.

I think that the tool I developed addressed every question that needed to be answered to make a complete picture about the interviewee’s spirituality. The interview I have conducted will help me to meet the needs of my future patients better, since I realize now how important spiritual beliefs are and how much they can affect the patient’s attitude towards their medical condition and, consequently, their healing process. However, the woman I interviewed was very cooperative and answered all my questions sincerely. Perhaps, I will need some additional questions for people who are less ready to make contact. So, this is the first and principal thing that should be addressed in the future.

References

Galek, K., Flannelly, K. J., Vane, A., & Galek, R. M. (2005). Assessing a Patient’s Spiritual Needs: A Comprehensive Instrument. Holistic Nursing Practice, 19(2), 62-69.

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. (2005). Evaluating your Spiritual Assessment Process: Asked and Answered. Web.

LaRocca-Pitts, M. (2012). FACT, A Chaplain’s Tool for Assessing Spiritual Needs in an Acute Care Setting. Chaplaincy Today, 28(1), 25-32.

Saguil, A., & Phelps, K. (2012). The Spiritual Assessment. American Family Physician, 86(6), 546-550.