Spiritual Assessment: A Nursing Responsibility


On my way to work this morning, I noticed a church marquee that had this message posted: “Procrastinators suffer from hardening of the oughteries” (author unknown). I immediately thought about this editorial…nurses must not procrastinate – meeting the spiritual needs of patients will reduce patient suffering (Grant, 2004). Not having been taught spiritual assessment in one’s nursing program of studies is not an excuse. We have a mandate, as well as a professional responsibility – procrastinate no more! In the last issue of OJRHHC, we focused on the personal responsibility of each nurse in assessing one’s own spirituality as well as evaluating how nursing is addressing spirituality in clinical practice or academia. Remember that Joint Commission requires that nurses provide a spiritual assessment of every patient (JCAHO, 2004); however, patient’s are reporting that their spiritual needs are not being adequately addressed by healthcare providers (Grant, 2004; Ross, 2006). This might be a concurrent problem within nursing curriculums and the healthcare environment. Nursing students must be taught how to conduct a spiritual screening/assessment and how to provide spiritual interventions into the patient’s plan of care. Likewise, the healthcare environment must continue to promote the systematic provision of spiritual care of patients (Cavendish, et al., 2004).

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