Aims. The paper gives an overview of nursing research papers published on spiritual care between 1983 and October 2005. It also provides pointers for the future direction of research in this emerging field.
Background. Spiritual care of patients/clients is expected of nurses and is reflected in nursing codes of ethics, nurse education guidelines, policy documents and nursing guidance. Recent years have seen a proliferation in nursing research in this area, particularly in the UK and North America, and now in other European countries. It seemed timely, therefore, to review this published research.
Method. Included in the review were 47 original published nursing research papers identified from a CINAHL search and from a collection held by the author since 1983. Papers were sorted into five categories, a template to aid reviewing was produced and a short summary and critique of each paper was written.
Conclusions. Research on spirituality and health needs to move forward in a systematic and co-ordinated way.
Relevance to clinical practice. Hopefully, the research summarized in this paper will be useful to clinicians and nurse educators as they strive to incorporate spiritual care within their practice. In turn patients/clients and their families should benefit from care which is more holistic and addresses their deepest concerns and needs.