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A qualitative study of nurses' attitudes towards' and accommodations of patients' expressions of religiosity and faith in dementia care

Authors

  • Liv Skomakerstuen Ødbehr RN,

    Lecturer PhD Student, Corresponding author
    1. Department of Nursing and Mental Health, Faculty of Public Health, Hedmark University College, Elverum, Norway
    2. Department of Nursing Science, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo, Norway
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  • Kari Kvigne PhD RN,

    Professor
    1. Department of Nursing and Mental Health, Faculty of Public Health, Hedmark University College, Elverum, Norway
    2. Nesna University College, Institute of Nurse Education, Norway
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  • Solveig Hauge PhD RN,

    Associate Professor
    1. Institute of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social Studies, Telemark University College, Porsgrunn, Norway
    2. Centre of Caring Research-Sothern Norway, Institute of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social Studies, Telemark University College, Porsgrunn, Norway
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  • Lars Johan Danbolt PhD

    Professor
    1. Center for Psychology and Religion, Innlandet Hospital Trust, Ottestad, Norway
    2. Oslo School of Theology, Norway
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Abstract

Aims

To investigate nurses' attitudes towards and accommodations of patients' expressions of religiosity and faith in dementia care.

Background

Holistic care for people with dementia addresses patients' religiosity and faith. Nurses' accommodations of patients' religiosity have not been studied extensively even though nurses report a lack of experience and knowledge regarding religious care.

Design

This study has a qualitative research design.

Methods

Eight focus group interviews with 16 nurses and 15 care workers in four Norwegian nursing homes were conducted from June 2011–January 2012. The interview text was analysed using van Manen's hermeneutic-phenomenological approach and Lindseth and Nordberg's structural analysis.

Findings

The following three main themes reflected the nurses' and care workers' attitudes towards and accommodations of patients' expressions of religiosity and faith: (i) embarrassment vs. comfort, described in the sub-themes ‘feelings of embarrassment’ and ‘religiosity as a private matter’; (ii) unknown religious practice vs. known religious practice, described as ‘religious practice that was scary’ or ‘religious practice that was recognizable’; and (iii) death vs. life, described as ‘difficulty talking about death ‘or ‘focusing on life and the quality of life’.

Conclusion

Nurses and care workers were uncertain and lacked knowledge of the patients' expressions of religiosity and faith in terms of both their substance and their function. Nurses struggled with ambivalent feelings about patients' religious expressions and with unclear understanding of the significance of religiosity. These challenges compromised person-centred and holistic care on several occasions.

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