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Increase Patient Satisfaction: Nurses Must Offer Spiritual Care

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, January 15th, 2013

Physicians and nurses at four Boston medical centers said lack of training explained why they rarely provide spiritual care for terminally ill cancer patients, although most considered it an important part of treatment at the end of life and it’s proven to increase patient satisfaction.

Current U.S. palliative care guidelines encourage medical practitioners to pay close attention to religious and spiritual needs that often arise during a patient’s end-of-life care. However, the 204 physicians who participated in the study reported providing spiritual care to just 24% of their patients. Among 118 nurses, the figure was 31%.

The 69 patients with advanced cancers who took the survey reported even lower rates, saying 14% of nurses and 6% of physicians provided them some sort of spiritual care.

Past research has shown that spiritual care for seriously ill patients improves their quality of life, increases their overall patient satisfaction with care and decreases aggressive medical treatment, which may in turn result in lower overall health spending.

In the past, some nurses and physicians may have said, ‘That’s not my job,’ but the tides are changing. We can no longer ignore this aspect of care.

Their survey showed that a majority of providers and patients supported the appropriateness of eight specific examples of spiritual care, such as a doctor or nurse praying with a patient or referring the patient to a hospital chaplain.

Lack of training stood out as the biggest barrier to providing spiritual care in this small study. Only 13% of doctors and nurses reported having ever received spiritual care training.

How can your facility provide training to minister to the spiritual needs of your patients?

A nurse cannot deliver what she/he does not have inside. A caregiver of strong in mind, body and spirit can deliver that care.

To learn more nurse recruitment and retention strategies, how to increase work life balance for nurses, and how to increase patient satisfaction scores, check out my new SelfCare for HealthCare program. After you take a look, CONTACT ME DIRECTLY to talk about customizing this powerful program for your employees.

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