Critical Care Nurses’ Experiences With Spiritual Care: The SPIRIT Study
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BACKGROUND: Little is known about the effect of chaplains on critical care nurses who are caring for critically ill patients and their families. OBJECTIVE: To understand nurses' experiences when they make a referral to the Spiritual Care Department for a patient or the family of a patient who is dying or deceased. Specific aims were to explore spiritual care's effect on nurses and how nurses understand the role of spiritual care in practice. METHODS: A qualitative descriptive study using in-person, semistructured interviews in a 21-bed medical-surgical intensive care unit in a teaching hospital. Purposeful sampling identified nurses who had at least 5 years of experience and had cared for at least 5 patients who died on their shift and at least 5 patients for whom they initiated a spiritual care referral. Interviews were digitally recorded and anonymized; conventional content analysis was used to analyze transcripts. Three investigators independently coded 5 transcripts and developed the preliminary coding list. As analysis proceeded, investigators organized codes into categories and themes. RESULTS: A total of 25 nurses were interviewed. The central theme that emerged was presence, described through 3 main categories: the value of having chaplains present in the intensive care unit and their role, nurses' experiences working with chaplains, and nurses' experiences providing spiritual care. CONCLUSION: Nurses considered spiritual care essential to holistic care and valued the support chaplains provide to patients, families, and staff in today's spiritually diverse society.