Prevalence and Associated Factors of Spiritual Needs Among Patients With Cancer and Family Caregivers

Elizabeth Johnston Taylor

ONF 2006, 33(4), 729-735. DOI: 10.1188/06.ONF.729-735

Purpose/Objectives: To measure the prevalence of spiritual needs and identify factors associated with spiritual needs among patients with cancer and family caregivers.

Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional, quantitative.

Setting: Inpatients and outpatients at a university medical center in the southwestern United States.

Sample: 156 patients with cancer and 68 family caregivers who were primarily white and Christian and mostly perceived their cancer as not life threatening.

Methods: Self-report questionnaires, including the Spiritual Interests Related to Illness Tool and Information About You. Statistical analysis involved analyses of variance, correlations, and factor analysis.

Main Research Variables: Spiritual needs and desire for nursing help with spiritual needs.

Findings: The most important spiritual needs included being positive, loving others, finding meaning, and relating to God. The least important were needing to ask "why" questions and preparing for dying. Desire for nursing assistance with spiritual needs was moderate and varied. Variables correlated with spiritual needs and desire for nurse help included religiosity, being an inpatient, and perceiving the cancer as incurable. Desire for nurse help and importance of spiritual needs were directly correlated.

Conclusions: Distressing spiritual needs were reported least frequently. Certain factors appear to be associated with how much spiritual need is perceived and how much nurse help with those needs is wanted.

Implications for Nursing: Patients with cancer and family caregivers have similar spiritual needs that may require care. Spiritual assessment and therapeutics can target specific types of spiritual needs. A nurse's help with spiritual needs, however, is not always wanted.

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