Educational interventions and strategies for spiritual care in nursing and healthcare students and staff: A scoping review

Linda Rykkje*, Margrethe Bakstad Søvik, Linda Ross, Wilfred McSherry, Pamela Cone, Tove Giske

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Aims and objectives: To map existing evidence about educational interventions or strategies in nursing and allied healthcare concerning students’ and staffs’ spiritual care provision. Background: Spiritual care is an important part of whole person care, but healthcare staff lack competence and awareness of spiritual issues in practice. To rectify this, it is important to identify what educational approaches are most helpful in supporting them to provide spiritual care. Design: A scoping review using the PRISMA-ScR checklist. Method: Searches in the databases CINAHL, MEDLINE, ATLA and ERIC were conducted for papers spanning January 2009–May 2020. Search terms were related to spirituality, spiritual care, education and clinical teaching. Appraisal tools were used. Results: From the 2128 potentially relevant papers, 36 were included. The studies were from 15 different countries and involved nurses, physicians and other health-related professions, and both quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods were used. The results are presented in three themes: Understanding of spirituality, Strategies in educational settings, and Strategies in practice settings. The review points to great diversity in the content, lengths and setting of the educational interventions or strategies. Conclusions: Courses in spiritual care should be implemented in curricula in both undergraduate and postgraduate education, and several studies suggest it should be mandatory. Courses should also be available for healthcare staff to raise awareness and to encourage the integration of spiritual care into their everyday practice. There is a need for greater consensus about how spirituality and spiritual care are described in healthcare settings. Relevance to clinical practice: Spiritual care must be included both in monodisciplinary and multidisciplinary educational settings. The main result of spiritual care courses is in building awareness of spiritual issues and self-awareness. To ensure the provision of spiritual care for patients in healthcare practices, continuing and multidisciplinary education is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16067
Pages (from-to)1440-1464
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number11-12
Early online date6 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2021


  • education
  • healthcare
  • nursing
  • practice
  • scoping review
  • spiritual care
  • spirituality


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