This research study was conducted to investigate what patients with cancer and their family caregivers expect from nurses in terms of spiritual care giving. The research was conducted in a qualitative manner to generate facts empirically and objectively, so that the data collected can give insight as to what patient receiving care need. In terms of qualitative methodologies used, it was important to find out how patients reacted to nurses activities in the past and therefore literature reviews on past collected information was helpful. The research also used case report design with the use of tools such as questionnaires, tape recorders, and interview guide in order to give detailed data that would be easy to reduce and compare during analysis. The various techniques and strategies used were manipulated to acquire meaningful information that could help nurses perform their work in a more meaningful way.
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Setting and Participants
The study group decided to undertake the research in an outpatient and inpatient health facilities for comprehensive purposes. One study was to be conducted in the countryside and another one in metropolitan area, due to the controllable and uncontrollable variables such as lifestyle, education, and social class. The health facilities were supposed to be cancer centre’s so that the study could collect the information necessary. The participants that were used in this research were cancer patients from different backgrounds, of the age 18 years, and above. It comprised of 24 participants both patients and care givers from African American and European American background. The study group selected random people from different religious affiliations, different educational backgrounds, diverse social classes and lifestyle of English speaking backdrop.
The first method that was employed was the literature review. After visiting health libraries and conducting thorough studies, results indicated that serious illness or hospitalization could increase patient’s receptiveness towards spiritual care from nurses. It was established that patients learnt to value spiritual caregivers despite their line of work, and lifestyle. This was demonstrated in their wake to accept nurse’s help, to transform their lives and find greater meaning and purpose through spirituality. Patient- nurse activities such as sharing personal experience, giving hope to the patient, performing connectedness behaviors such as being physically present, touching, accepting the patient no matter their condition, understanding them and self disclosure on the part of the nurse contributed to patients well being and acceptance of spiritual values. However, this research methodology was deemed weak due to reliance on others research. The findings could not be termed as objective due to lack of empiricism. It also has limitations since it was conducted by Christians only, so it would have been hard to establish what other faith had to point out. Nonetheless, the study group found that nurses who offered spiritual guidance were needed.
The other qualitative methodology that was employed in this study was case report. It was considered a good method due to its nature of involving only a small group of people and approaching them from different angles. The research was going to study cancer patients and their family caretakers and therefore it would need a descriptive report for the basis of further studies. After receiving consent from all the health facility administrators talked to, the research group used questionnaires to establish varying demographics of the participants. The questions posed sought to look into various religious origins, service attendance, extent of religious organizations, illness distress, and expected outcome of treatment. Tools such as tape recorders were used for unstructured questions such as if there was existence of any religious faith before diagnosis, if a nurse can help the patient with spiritual concerns, and what the patients would like the nurses to do for them in those regards. The interviews conducted were done privately for the cancer patients and the family caregivers in order to find out what they would prefer from nurses. This process took 4-5 hours and their basis was to provide a cognitive advantage on rich data.
After the data collected was analyzed, it was found that of the 24 participants, 16 were cancer patient and 8 were family care givers. Majority of the informants were of the African American descent precisely 10 with 8 having college degrees, and two having finished high school. The rest of the group from European American descent had college degrees and were living affluent lifestyles. Of the 24 informants 10 were Catholics, 9 were Protestants, 3 were Jews, and 2 were atheists. Of the 16 patients, one was an atheist and was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago. On being asked why he did not believe in the existence of a higher being, the patient said he tried to understand why he was sick and yet he used to pray. The study group later realized he was a staunch catholic believer and his faith disappeared after the diagnosis. On being asked if he would seek priestly intervention, the patient said no and was not going to accept such a circumstance. Seventeen of the cancer patients were asked which spiritual care intervention they would prefer from a nurse, most of the patients were happy with a general attitude of respect and caring which ranked higher than activities that were seen as openly religious. The family caregivers were of the belief that nurses who showed spiritual concerns were more valuable to their loved ones than those who didn’t. Seven care givers apart from the atheist one said that both spiritual needs and physical provision provided by the nurses would enable their loved ones to recover faster. The cancer patients were also asked what ways the hospital nurses could help with their spiritual needs, most frequent answer was, arranging a visit with a minister, a priest or a rabbi. The other answer was allowing time for personal prayer and meditation, the least answer was talking about beliefs and concerns.
After the research study, conclusions were drawn pertaining to the findings. It was found that there were two sides of patients; patients that did not want the nurses to address their spiritual needs, and patients that craved for spirituality and valued nurses who offered them. Since a nurse dealt with both sides of the patients it was concluded that he/she must consider how to address patient’s preconception and requisite for spiritual care giving. It was also discovered that top ranked nursing activities included; showing a caring and respectful attitude, helping to promote hopefulness, listening when patients want to talk, respecting religious beliefs and respecting religious articles, and practices. This was believed to give patients time to meditate for themselves and to grow spiritually without being imposed. However, nurses activities such as showing their presence frequently, self-disclosure, listening to the patient and touching the patient in a comforting way was received in good faith.