Student nurses' perspectives of spirituality and spiritual care

Lay Hwa Tiew*, Debra K. Creedy, Moon Fai Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To investigate nursing students' perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care. Background: Spirituality is an essential part of holistic care but often neglected in practice. Barriers to spiritual care include limited educational preparation, negative attitudes towards spirituality, confusion about nurses' role, perceptions of incompetence and avoidance of spiritual matters. There is limited knowledge about students' perspectives of spirituality and spiritual care. Previous studies have predominantly focused on educational approaches to enhance spirituality. The next generation of clinicians may have different worldviews, cultural beliefs and values about spirituality and spiritual care from current nurses. There is a need to understand students' views and how their spiritual development is shaped in order to inform pre-registration education. Method: A cross-sectional survey of final-year students from three educational institutions in Singapore was conducted from April to August 2010. Data included demographic details and responses on a new composite tool, the Spiritual Care Giving Scale (SCGS). Results: A response rate of 61.9% (n = 745 out of 1204) was achieved. The lowest mean score was item 9, "Without spirituality, a person is not considered whole". Highest mean was item 2, "Spirituality is an important aspect of human being". Factor 5 (Spiritual Care Values) had the lowest mean with Factor 2 (Spirituality Perspectives) the highest. Participants considered spirituality as essential to being human; developmental in nature; and vital for individuals' state of well-being. Attributes important for spiritual care were identified. Multivariate analyses showed positive association between participants' scores and institution but not with other variables. Conclusion: Participating student nurses reported a high level of spiritual awareness that was not constrained by age. Students affirmed the importance of spiritual awareness in order to address the spiritual needs of patients. There was some congruence between the perceptions of students in this ethno-culturally diverse Asian sample and responses by students in the UK and North America on the personal attributes needed to provide spiritual care. Comparative studies using the SCGS could inform our understanding of spirituality and best pedagogical approaches to develop spiritual awareness across the curricula and in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-579
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education Today
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes
  • Perceptions
  • Spiritual-care
  • Spirituality
  • Student-nurses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Education


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