Title

Medical Social Worker's Understandings of Spirituality in Patient Care

Department

Social Work

Date of Paper/Work

2016

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper

Advisors

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel

Abstract

Spirituality is defined as "an individual's connection or relationship with God or with some other kind of transcendent being or dimension (Hodge & Horvath, 2011, p. 307)." Based on past literature, a patient's spiritual or faith belief has the potential to influence their healthcare outcomes, coping ability, decision-making surrounding their healthcare, as well as their quality of life (Puchalski, Ferrell, Otis-Green, & Handzo, 2015). As social workers in the medical setting aim to provide psychosocial support, the inclusion of a spiritual assessment to determine the spiritual and faith needs of each patient in order to deliver individual patient care seems necessary. The purpose of this study is to examine medical social workers' understanding of spirituality in patient care. The study included qualitative interviews with eight graduate level social workers who have professional experience in a medical setting. The interviews examined areas related to professional experiences in assessing and providing spiritual care in a medical setting and six themes were discovered: (a) Assessing Religion Versus Values, (b) Presence of a Spiritual Assessment, (c) Social Workers Comfort with Spirituality, (d) Social Workers Expectation to Assess Patient's Spirituality, (e) Education and Training, and (f) the Role of Chaplains and Clergy. The findings of this study indicated there was a lack of training and education provided to social workers within this professional area. In addition, there was a lack of consistency in the assessment of spiritual beliefs due to uncertainty of professional role and expectations. The findings also support the importance of language when assessing for spirituality and the relationship between personal and professional comfort in providing spiritual care.

Keywords

spirituality, social workers, qualitative, assessment, education

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.