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Keywords:

  • connectedness;
  • meaning;
  • spirituality;
  • theory;
  • transcendence

Aims and objectives.  This paper addresses the need for a practical understanding of spirituality in nursing by means of a generic definition of spirituality, an emerging theoretical framework, and some general practice guidelines.

Background.  Spirituality is being addressed more frequently in nursing literature, but there is still lacking a professional understanding of the phenomenon that is useful as a basis for practice and research.

Conclusion.  The history of spirituality in nursing is recognized, and then its role in peoples’ and patients’ lives, health and healing is examined. Spirituality is clarified through its various definitions in the literature, and identification of component concepts: connectedness, meaning, transcendence, values and beliefs, energy and emotion. A working definition and the concepts are brought together into a framework. Guidelines for how to incorporate spirituality into practice are presented.

Relevance to clinical practice.  With this understanding of spirituality by means of a clarifying definition, a theoretical framework and six general guidelines, nurses may be better equipped to incorporate spirituality into their practice. This will fulfil professional and accrediting mandates and, more importantly, provide more holistic, ethical and balanced care for patients.