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The ethical basis of teaching spirituality and spiritual care: A survey of student nurses perceptions

McSherry, Wilfred; Gretton, Mark; Draper, Peter; Watson, Roger


Wilfred McSherry

Mark Gretton

Peter Draper


Background: There is a professional requirement for student nurses to achieve competence in the delivery of spiritual care. However, there is no research exploring students nurses perceptions of being educated in these matters. Aim: This paper explores the ethical basis of teaching student nurses about the concepts of spirituality and spiritual care by reporting the findings from the first year of a 3 year investigation. Design: An exploratory longitudinal design was used to obtain student nurses perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care as they progressed through a 3 year programme. Method: A questionnaire incorporating the Spirituality and Spiritual Care Rating Scale was distributed to 176 pre-registration nursing students undertaking either the Advanced Diploma or Bachelor of Science degree programmes. Results: A response rate of 76.7% was obtained. Findings reveal that the majority of student nurses perceived spirituality to be a universal phenomenon of a type that can be associated with existentialism. Some students were very uncertain and apprehensive about being instructed in spiritual matters. Conclusion: A cohort of student nurses held similar understandings of spirituality to those presented in the nursing literature. However the results also suggest an overwhelming majority felt it was wrong for spirituality to imply that some people are better than others and most were uncertain whether spirituality was related to good and evil. Relevance to nurse education: The investigation reveals that there are a number of ethical concerns surrounding the teaching of spirituality to student nurses that need to be resolved. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


McSherry, W., Gretton, M., Draper, P., & Watson, R. (2008). The ethical basis of teaching spirituality and spiritual care: A survey of student nurses perceptions. Nurse education today, 28(8), 1002-1008.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 8, 2008
Online Publication Date Jul 1, 2008
Publication Date 2008-11
Print ISSN 0260-6917
Electronic ISSN 1532-2793
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 8
Pages 1002-1008
Keywords Spirituality; Ethics; Nurse education; Longitudinal
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