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Published online: 2024-03-01

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Exploring the readiness of hospice and oncology unit staff to offer spiritual support to patients: preliminary findings

Zuzanna Gurzyńska1, Krzysztof Sobczak2, Milena Aneta Lachowicz3

Abstract

Introduction: Patients’ spiritual needs are often marginalized by medical staff, who identify them with religious practice, faith, and God. Illness and related human suffering are not just physical ailments alone. The loss of health entails several changes in a patient’s life and requires reorganization of the family, professional, social, and spiritual aspects of it. The purpose of this article is to analyze the medical personnel’s sense of readiness to provide spiritual care to patients of oncology units and hospice facilities.

Methods: The study was carried out with the use of the Spiritual Supporter Scale whose psychometric values were determined on a high level of reliability with Cronbach’s α = 0.88.

Results: The results of the Spiritual Supporter Scale showed that oncology professionals got significantly lower scores [median (Me) = 5; mean (M) = 5.11; standard deviation (SD) = 1.89] in the overall scale score than those who work in hospices (Me = 7; M = 6.9; SD = 1.5). The analysis also showed that oncology unit employees (54%), declared that providing spiritual care to patients is an integral part of their work (p < 0.02) significantly less often than those employed in hospices (88%). They were also less likely to declare (77%) that spiritual support is necessary in their workplace than persons who provide care in hospices (95%; p < 0.01).

Conclusions: The study showed the differences in the sense of preparedness as well as competencies to provide spiritual care among medical workers in hospices and oncology units.

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