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The impact of empirical studies of spirituality and culture on nurse education


  • Aru Narayanasamy PhD, RN

    1. Associate Professor/Director of Staff Development, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, School of Nursing, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
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Aru Narayanasamy
Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences
School of Nursing
University of Nottingham
A Floor, Queens Medical Centre
Nottingham NG7 2HA
Telephone: +078 103 78 150


Aims and objectives.  The aim of this paper is to share reflectively how my empirical studies on spirituality and culture have had an impact upon nurse education.

Background.  Spirituality and cultural dimensions of care are considered to be integral to holistic care. The healing potentials of spiritual and cultural care are well documented. The commitment to the research programme came due to the concern within early literature on nursing that the provision of spiritual care for patients is inadequate.

Methods.  The research programme used action research comprising largely qualitative approaches. As the holistic and multiperspective nature of spirituality and culture requires a multidisciplinary approach and flexibility of methodology, various research techniques were used.

Results.  The findings from the research programme led to the development of theories, models and conceptual literature on spiritual and cultural care. In particular, two models evolved from the studies: the ASSET for spiritual cares education and training and the ACCESS for transcultural care practice. The critical incident studies provide insights into nurses’ roles in spiritual care interventions. The phenomenological study highlights that chronically ill patients use spiritual strategies in coping with their illness.

Conclusion.  Overall, the paper offers a body of evidence that has an impact upon curriculum development in nurse education and nursing practice.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The ASSET model offers a framework for spiritual care education. The ACCESS model offers a framework for transcultural care practice. The critical incident studies map out nurses’ roles in spiritual and cultural care with scope for development of care intervention models for the future. The coping mechanisms study highlights how patients use spiritual coping strategies such as prayer and other resources to cope with their chronic illnesses.