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Spirituality and end-of-life care within the context of nursing
  1. Caroline Tiffen and
  2. Allison Bentley
  1. Caroline Tiffen is Senior Sister, Garden House Hospice, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, and Allison Bentley is Community Matron, Cambridgeshire Community Services, Ely, Cambridgeshire. At the time of writing they were Palliative Care Specialist Nurses, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge. Emails: carolinetiffen{at}; allison.bentley2{at}


This article explores the concept of spirituality within the context of nursing. The method by which spirituality might be measured and recorded within a modern-day health service is debated. There is exploration of models and tools produced for assessing and meeting patients’ spiritual needs. Signs of spiritual distress are examined along with the qualities and skills nurses require to meet the spiritual needs of patients. The necessity for nurses to refer to appropriate members of the multidisciplinary team is discussed. Surface-level spiritual awareness can be enhanced by good communication skills, education and reflection. For a deeper level of spiritual understanding, specialist skills may be required, such as those provided by chaplaincy. In addition, therapeutic relationships with patients, individual staff awareness, intuition and listening skills are shown to help reach patients on a spiritual level. The definitions of the key terms often associated with spirituality that appear in the article are provided in a glossary. Conflicts of interest: none

  • End-of-life care
  • Nursing care
  • Palliative care
  • Spirituality
  • Spiritual assessment

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