What is spiritual care? Professional perspectives on the concept of spiritual care identified through group concept mapping

Niels Christian Hvidt*, Kristina Tomra Nielsen, Alex K Kørup, Christina Prinds, Dorte Gilså Hansen, Dorte Toudal Viftrup, Elisabeth Assing Hvidt, Elisabeth Rokkjær Hammer, Erik Falkø, Flemming Locher, Hanne Bess Boelsbjerg, Johan Albert Wallin, Karsten Flemming Thomsen, Katja Schrøder, Lene Moestrup, Ricko Damberg Nissen, Sif Stewart-Ferrer, Tobias Kvist Stripp, Vibeke Østergaard Steenfeldt, Jens SøndergaardEva Ejlersen Wæhrens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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OBJECTIVES: The overall study aim was to synthesise understandings and experiences regarding the concept of spiritual care (SC). More specifically, to identify, organise and prioritise experiences with the way SC is conceived and practised by professionals in research and the clinic.

DESIGN: Group concept mapping (GCM).

SETTING: The study was conducted within a university setting in Denmark.

PARTICIPANTS: Researchers, students and clinicians working with SC on a daily basis in the clinic and/or through research participated in brainstorming (n=15), sorting (n=15), rating and validation (n=13).

RESULTS: Applying GCM, ideas were identified, organised and prioritised online. A total of 192 unique ideas of SC were identified and organised into six clusters. The results were discussed and interpreted at a validation meeting. Based on input from the validation meeting a conceptual model was developed. The model highlights three overall themes: (1) 'SC as an integral but overlooked aspect of healthcare' containing the two clusters SC as a part of healthcare and perceived significance; (2) 'delivering SC' containing the three clusters quality in attitude and action, relationship and help and support, and finally (3) 'the role of spirituality' containing a single cluster.

CONCLUSION: Because spirituality is predominantly seen as a fundamental aspect of each individual human being, particularly important during suffering, SC should be an integral aspect of healthcare, although it is challenging to handle. SC involves paying attention to patients' values and beliefs, requires adequate skills and is realised in a relationship between healthcare professional and patient founded on trust and confidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere042142
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 28. Dec 2020


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