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Screening Patient Spirituality and Spiritual Needs in Oncology Nursing

van Leeuwen, René PhD, RN; Schep-Akkerman, Annemiek PhD; van Laarhoven, Hanneke W. M. MD-PhD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/HNP.0b013e318294e690

Aim. To select 2 appropriate spiritual assessment tools and evaluate these by involving oncology nurses.

Background. Spirituality is recognized as an important domain of cancer care. At admission, integration of spiritual assessment seems necessary. It is unclear what kind of spiritual assessment method would be most preferable.

Design. This study has an explorative and qualitative design.

Methods. Spiritual assessment tools were identified by means of a systematic literature search. Two tools were selected by a 4-step selection procedure. Evaluation of these tools took place by interviewing Dutch oncology nurses (n = 8). The interviews were qualitatively analyzed.

Results. Of the 120 assessment tools collected, the Spiritual Health Inventory tool and the Spiritual History tool remained for further evaluation. The 8 oncology nurses did not have a unifying opinion on spiritual assessment in general, but they all agreed that in nursing practice a structural integration of spiritual assessment is lacking. The nurses preferred the use of the Spiritual Health tool for its “checklist like” approach. It seems that this tool gives them a concrete procedure to follow.

Conclusions. The diversity of operationalizing spirituality is reflected in the amount of collected tools. By choosing an assessment tool, cultural related aspects should be taken in consideration.

Lectorate Healthcare and Spirituality, Faculty of Health Care, Reformed University for Applied Sciences, Zwolle (Drs van Leeuwen and Schep-Akkerman); and Department of Medical Oncology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, and Department of Medical Oncology, University Medical Centre Nijmegen, Nijmegen (Dr van Laarhoven), The Netherlands.

Correspondence: René van Leeuwen, PhD, RN, Faculty of Healthcare, Reformed University for Applied Sciences, PO Box 10030, 8000 GA, Zwolle, the Netherlands (

There is no conflict of interest.

The authors thank the nurses who participated in the study and also Leonie Leeffers-Vleesenbeek and Sanneke van der Sluis, former nursing students at the Faculty of Health Care of the Reformed University for Applied Sciences, Zwolle, the Netherlands, who contributed to the study. The contributions made by different authors were as follows: study design—R.V.L., A.S.-A., H.W.M.L.; data collection and analysis—A.S.-A., R.V.L., H.W.M.L.; and manuscript preparation: R.V.L., A.S.-A., H.W.M.L.

© 2013 by Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins