Mental health nurses' understanding and experiences of providing care for the spiritual needs of service users: a qualitative study

Ruth Elliott, John Wattis, Kathleen Chirema, Joanna Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Abstract

Introduction
Mental health nurses have a professional obligation to attend to service users’ spiritual needs, but little is known about specific issues related to provision of care for spiritual need faced by mental health nurses or how nurses understand this aspect of care and deliver it in practice.

Aim/Question
To explore mental health nurses’ ́understandings of spiritual need and their experiences of delivering this care for service users.

Method
A qualitative study was conducted in one NHS mental health service. Interviews were undertaken with seventeen mental health nurses practising in a variety of areas.

Results
Four themes were generated from thematic analysis of data in the template style: Expressing personal perspectives on spirituality; Expressing perspectives on spirituality as a nursing professional; Nursing spiritually; Permeating anxiety (integrative).

Discussion
Participants had complex understandings of spiritual need and evident anxieties in relation to this area of care. Two different approaches to nursing spiritually are characterised as [i] pragmatic (concerned with procedural aspects of care) and [ii] spiritually empathetic. Mental health nurses were uncertain about the acceptability of attention to spiritual issues as part of care and anxious about distinguishing between symptoms of mental ill health and spiritual needs.


Implications for Practice
Educational experiences need to emphasise both pragmatic and empathetic approaches and work needs to be organised to support good practice.
LanguageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Early online date8 Sep 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Sep 2019

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Mental Health
Nurses
Spirituality
Nursing
Anxiety
Mental Health Services
Interviews
Health

Cite this

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AB - AbstractIntroductionMental health nurses have a professional obligation to attend to service users’ spiritual needs, but little is known about specific issues related to provision of care for spiritual need faced by mental health nurses or how nurses understand this aspect of care and deliver it in practice.Aim/QuestionTo explore mental health nurses’ ́understandings of spiritual need and their experiences of delivering this care for service users.MethodA qualitative study was conducted in one NHS mental health service. Interviews were undertaken with seventeen mental health nurses practising in a variety of areas. ResultsFour themes were generated from thematic analysis of data in the template style: Expressing personal perspectives on spirituality; Expressing perspectives on spirituality as a nursing professional; Nursing spiritually; Permeating anxiety (integrative).DiscussionParticipants had complex understandings of spiritual need and evident anxieties in relation to this area of care. Two different approaches to nursing spiritually are characterised as [i] pragmatic (concerned with procedural aspects of care) and [ii] spiritually empathetic. Mental health nurses were uncertain about the acceptability of attention to spiritual issues as part of care and anxious about distinguishing between symptoms of mental ill health and spiritual needs.Implications for PracticeEducational experiences need to emphasise both pragmatic and empathetic approaches and work needs to be organised to support good practice.

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