Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Nursing

Abstract

Spiritual care has the potential to improve clients' health and quality of life. Since clients desire spiritual care from their health care providers as they age or as their health worsens, geriatric nurse practitioners (GNPs) were chosen to participate in this study. This cross-sectional, descriptive, survey design investigates the relationships and differences between practicing GNPs spiritual perspectives and their ability to assess clients' spiritual care needs (SCN) and provide specific spiritual care interventions (SCI). Differences and relationships were also investigated based on demographic variables of the GNPs. In addition, participants were asked to define spirituality in an open ended question. Using a conceptual framework based on Newman's Theory of Health as Expanding Consciousness and the spirituality/spiritual care literature, this research suggested expanding the consciousness of the GNP. This could be accomplished with an increased intrapersonal relationship as well as pattern recognition by the GNP and client within an interpersonal relationship and energy exchange. Practicing GNPs were surveyed using Reed's Spiritual Perspectives Scale and two new tools developed for this research: Vincensi Spiritual Assessment Tool (VSAT) and Vincensi Spiritual Care Intervention Tool (VSCIT). Content validity was completed and internal reliability scores ranged from 0.87 to 0.93 on the new tools. Findings indicated GNPs' spiritual perspectives are high-moderate at 4.73 on a 1-6 Likert scale, and are influenced by religion and ethnicity/race/culture. Significant relationships were not found between the GNPs' spiritual perspectives and subscales of the VSAT and the GNP generated subscale of the VSCIT. Significant differences were found with gender, graduate education on spiritual care, and further education on spirituality/spiritual care outside of the academic setting. The frequency of assessing SCNs and providing SCIs to clients increased when significant differences existed. These findings highlight the importance of including content on spiritual care in graduate curricula and continuing education programs for practicing GNPs. Including spiritual care content in the graduate curricula may increase spiritual self awareness and spiritual care skills for use in practice. The participants' definition of spirituality mapped into the conceptual definition developed for this study, however two new themes emerged. These included spirituality as a moral and ethical base for being and acting in the world, and spirituality as an influence in fulfilling human needs. Further research into the literature is recommended on these two new themes and their relationship to spirituality as they were not part of the research definition or found in the literature.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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