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Exploring how psychiatric nurses working with psychiatric clients in the eThekwini district understand the spiritual dimension of holistic psychiatric nursing practice : a descriptive phenomenological study.

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The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how psychiatric nurses working with psychiatric clients in the EThekwini District understand the spiritual dimension of holistic psychiatric nursing practice. Descriptive phenomenology informed the study design, data collection and analysis. Integrating spiritual and psychiatric care is an important contemporary issue for psychiatric nursing if the profession is to continue to define itself as a holistic and client-centered activity and to provide socially responsive care (Greasley et al 2001; Mohr, 2006). Local data about how nurses understand and practice spirituality in their working encounters with clients would be an important first step in enhancing holistic, patient-centered psychiatric nursing care in the South African context. Purposeful sampling was used to select the seven psychiatric nurses working in psychiatric settings in the EThekwini District. These participants were selected from the advanced psychiatric nursing classes of the School of Nursing of the University of KwaZulu-Natal for 2008/2009 and 2009/2010. Data were collected through in-depth interviews lasting for 45minutes to lhour and were audio-taped and later transcribed to facilitate easy analysis. The Colaizzi Method of data analysis and representation was utilized. The following four themes emerged during the analysis of the data. Each theme had between three and twenty one associated significant statements. Theme 1 revolved around the higher power of spirituality, religion and their relationship. The participants conceptualized spirituality in a variety of ways, linking spirituality to religion and to cultural values, daily moral and interpersonal experiences with self and others that provide direction and meaning in life. Spirituality was conceived of as "the glue that brings people together" and as a primary source of meaning making in daily life that provides people, nurses and patients with a sense of belonging and of joy, hope, and comfort in both difficult and happy times. The second theme "Central to but forgotten in psychiatric nursing practice" concurs with the literature view that spirituality and psychiatric nursing care are related, although spirituality is often forgotten in psychiatric nursing practice. Participants linked spirituality specifically to Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. The third theme entitled "Psychiatric nursing for the spirit: Enabling and limiting factors identifies a number of factors which influence how psychiatric nurses engage with this dimension of holistic psychiatric nursing practice. This theme focuses on factors which influence psychiatric nurses in providing spiritual care for their patients. Enabling factors include psychiatric' nurses own spiritual orientation and knowledge about spiritual care enables them to provide spiritual care whereas limiting factors include the lack of spiritual education and spiritual knowledge in providing this care. The final theme highlights what these nurses see as important for developing their ability to provide spiritual assistance and includes education in method of spiritual assessment and intervention as the basis for providing holistic psychiatric nursing practice. A number of recommendations for psychiatric nursing practice, education, research and policy-making based on the data from the study were made to relevant stakeholders. If accepted and implemented will go a long way in augmenting psychiatric nursing intervention to be holistic wherein psychiatric nursing care will include not only the biological, psychological and social care but also the spiritual care.


Thesis (MN)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2010.


Psychiatric nursing--Religious aspects., Theses--Nursing.