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The importance of the nursing role in spiritual care of patients
  1. The Rev Andrew Goodhead, Spiritual Care Lead
  1. St Christopher’s Hospice, London. Email: a.goodhead{at}


People coming to the end of their lives require more than good physical symptom management. Psychosocial and spiritual pain may also be present. When dealing with death and dying, nurses will encounter patients and families struggling to deal with existential issues regarding the meaning and purpose of life in the face of terminal disease. Recognising spiritual distress is a key element of palliative and end-of-life care nursing. This article explores how nurses may be ideally situated, because of their unique relationship with patients, to assess and deal with patients’ existential concerns. The role of the spiritual care team, including the chaplaincy, is explored. The necessary skills that the nurse requires to create a therapeutic relationship with the patient are discussed. These skills are the means by which spiritual needs may be assessed accurately, and appropriately met, by nurses and other members of the multidisciplinary team. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Loss and grief
  • Multidisciplinary team
  • Nursing
  • Spirituality
  • Therapeutic relationship
  • Total pain

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