This exploratory study had as its objective the identification of the spiritual needs of patients. Three aspects of the study were: (1) to identify the spiritual needs students of nursing recognized during the care of their patients; (2) to discover the type of behavior patients manifested which enabled the students to recognize these needs and, (3) to identify the spiritual care given to patients by students during their regular nursing assignments.

Thirty-seven senior students, enrolled in the baccalaureate programs of three Seventh-day Adventists colleges, used a questionnaire constructed for this study to identify spiritual needs after they had given nursing care for two consecutive days. Since they had no knowledge of participation in the study until Immediately after giving nursing care, their responses were based on recall. Ten stated that their patients had no discernible spiritual needs. Twenty-seven identified thirty-seven spiritual problems which appeared to imply spiritual needs. The students based their perception of spiritual problems through observation of the patients' emotional attitudes in illness and through conversation. The students of nursing demonstrated a variety of spiritual care activities. A few of the more common ones v/ere directing the patients to God, encouraging patients to talk over feelings, and listening. Most of the activities of the students consisted of conversation.

The thirty-seven spiritual problems identified by the nurses were categorized into three classifications: (1) need for faith in God, (2) need for hope in God, and (3) need for love of God. To validate the assignment of problems to these three groups, the items were submitted to an independent group of professional persons. This group acting as a jury, was composed of two hospital chaplains, two physicians, and two nurses. The jury majority, four out of the six jurors, agreed with the classification, but the students1 descriptions of the spiritual needs were not detailed enough for validation of the classification. At this point the data v/ere submitted to a second jury composed of seven professional nurses selected from one of the three colleges used in the study. These persons were asked to classify the thirty-seven spiritual care activities into ten categories selected from a nursing textbook. Evidence indicated that it was difficult for the jury to classify the students' spiritual care activities according to the ten categories because of the complexity of nurses' actions and/or because the category list itself was unsuitable.

The size of the sample precluded generalizations, but for the population of this study it was concluded that: (1) nurses can identify patient problems which imply spiritual needs; (2) patient problems identified by nurses can be categorized as need for faith, hope and love for God; (3) cues for spiritual needs were obtained from both verbal and nonverbal communications; (4) physical, psychological and psychosocial problems had spiritual implications; (5) nurses used a variety of nursing actions to meet spiritual needs of patients--conversation and listening being the most common; and (6) nurses spiritual care activities were difficult to classify under the selected categorization taken from a current textbook written for students of nursing.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

L. Lucile Lewis

Second Advisor

R. Maureen Maxwell

Third Advisor

Paul C. Heubach

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Nurse-Patient Relations; Religion and Medicine



Page Count

vii; 140

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives

Included in

Nursing Commons